September 2022

Dear Omaha Public Schools Community,


In August, I shared this message with all staff and families. Because safety is paramount for our district, we wanted to use September’s edition of Inside OPS to share it again:

We are focused on providing safe, welcoming and supportive environments for our students and staff. 

Proactively setting expectations 

Each school in our district is teaching student expectations to begin the new school year. We build from the same model: Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for Behavior, or MTSS-B. It focuses on common expectations from the classroom to the lunchroom and recess, or extra-curricular activities. 

Our district uses one Student Code of Conduct. The discipline outlined in our Student Code of Conduct reflects how seriously we take the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Consequences are designed to be a learning experience for students. 

Safety is everyone’s responsibility

Families have an essential role in this work. There are many ways a student’s loved ones can join:

  • Regularly discuss behavior expectations from school to home as a family. That includes the consequences if students do not use good judgment for their safety and the well-being of others.
  • Check in daily with your child, listening for what is going well and what may be a challenge. If your student is struggling, support is available.
  • If you or your student see concerning behavior, report it immediately.

Communicating concerns 

Students and families should always report concerns to a trusted staff member at school. For 24/7 support, Omaha Public Schools partners with the BoysTown National Hotline to offer Safe2Help Nebraska. Trained counselors can help students and families in crisis or take anonymous reports about safety concerns. Hotline staff relay appropriate information to law enforcement, school leaders and our District Safety Office. A Safe2Help Nebraska link is installed on all student iPads. Families can also call (531) 299-SAFE. 

We value open communication with our students, staff and families. Though privacy concerns often limit what information we can share, our schools communicate directly with staff and families about concerns and incidents on campus. 

Responding in case of an emergency 

Students and staff will regularly practice our district’s Standard Response Protocol, or SRP. It explains the actions that students, staff and visitors can take during an emergency (fire, evacuation, severe weather and more). SRP is used in schools across our country.


We care deeply about the community we serve. Thank you for your partnership in promoting safe, welcoming and supportive schools. 


Cordially yours,

Cheryl Logan, Ed.D.


Clarkson College Website

#OPSProud Week Showcases Exceptional Opportunities and Joy

From an elementary classroom filled with kids learning to play the violin to award-winning college and career programming at our high schools, Omaha Public Schools offers diverse educational opportunities.

“We have the opportunity and the capacity to give our students something a little extra,” said Tyler Hottovy, Catlin Elementary principal.

This week, our district shined a spotlight on the many things that make Omaha Public Schools a great place to learn and work as we celebrated #OPSProud Week. One week is set aside each year as a district-wide initiative to showcase pride and joy within the community. It began in 2017 as part of a goal for our district to lift up student and staff achievements and share our district’s story more broadly.

Five years later, staff, students, families and community members join the annual celebration by spotlighting what makes them #OPSProud.


Milaysia Smith attends Benson High, a school that received national recognition for its exceptional programming. She participated in #OPSProud Week by noting her appreciation for the variety of experiences available to students.


“I’m #OPSProud because we can try new things and have so many opportunities,” said Smith. “And you’re able to be yourself.” 


Smith is one of many who took the time to share their thoughts during #OPSProud Week. Others posted on social media, highlighting the pride within our schools and programs.

“When kids come to a school where the staff cares about them, they feel more connected with them. They want to come and be engaged in lessons, and they’ll want to show off their success, which is amazing,” said Andrew Karmazin, Bryan Middle principal.


Omaha Public Schools is the largest and most diverse district in Nebraska, with more than 7,000 employees serving nearly 52,000 students. We invite you to learn more about our district through our Points of Pride and encourage you to join us throughout the year to share what makes you #OPSProud.

Click the image below or visit the Omaha Public Schools YouTube channel to watch a video feature on Catlin Elementary’s strings program

Proposed Budget Invests in Students, Staff and Facilities

During the first of three public presentations this month, Omaha Public Schools presented its proposed budget for the 2022-23 school year.


The hearing is the first step in approving our district’s proposed budget. The proposal reflects continued investments in our students, staff, infrastructure and facilities.


“It’s a very fiscally responsible budget for where we are as a district,” said Shane Rhian, Omaha Public Schools' chief financial officer. “The proposed budget effectively balances the needs of our students and staff.”

Key initiatives of the budget proposal tied to our Strategic Plan of Action include:

  • Student Supports for Academic Recovery: $77.8 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant funds are earmarked for Academic Recovery activities
  • Staff Retention and Recruitment: Raises for existing staff, salary and benefits for four new schools, retirement system transition, and stipends for student teachers
  • Infrastructure Needs: Classroom, student and infrastructure technology
  • Facilities: Increase in Special Building Fund levy to provide additional funds for facilities maintenance and improvements


The proposed budget reflects an increase in general fund expenses and a projected increase in general fund revenue over last school year.

“Building a responsible and effective budget is about maintaining balance and ensuring proposed spending is in line with expected revenues,” Rhian explained.


The reason for the projected revenue increase is due, in part, to an increase in certified valuations from Douglas and Sarpy Counties. Property taxes account for more than a third of our district’s total revenue. Other funding sources include state aid, cash reserves, federal funding and miscellaneous state and local resources.


Omaha Public Schools also plans to lower its property tax levy for the third consecutive year. Our district has reduced its levy in six of the last ten years.


“This history shows the district has been responsible with its tax asking over the last ten years,” said Rhian.


The proposed budget moves on to a Douglas County Joint Budget Hearing on Sept. 21, followed by the anticipated budget adoption at the Sept. 22 Board of Education meeting.


A comprehensive overview of the proposed 2022-23 budget is available on our website.

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Empowering Families as Partners in Education

Walking into the room at Prairie Wind Elementary, you’ll see a typical school setting. Desks are placed in a circle, the alphabet on the wall, bright colors all around the room and a teacher. But there’s one thing different; the students are primarily adults.

The lessons are part of Omaha Public Schools Family Literacy Program. It helps families who recently relocated to the United States navigate the education system. Families also become familiar with our community.

“It’s family literacy, so one of the things we talk about is how to work with your child to be a better parent. To support the child's learning experience,” said Adrian Petrescu, Family Literacy parent liaison for Omaha Public Schools.


Guidance ranges from how to access our online parent portal to navigating community transportation. Families receive books, literacy kits, bilingual picture dictionaries, calculators and support while learning English.

“They’re not just learning to speak the language, but how to read, write and listen in English,” said Petrescu. “We love it because the parents come for the kids.” 

Omaha Public Schools has offered the Family Literacy Program for more than a decade. This is the first year for the program at Prairie Wind. So far, 16 families are participating.


“We knew we wanted a separate location from the Welcome Center site where we had a good concentration of refugee families that were resettled,” said Jaimie Cogua, Omaha Public Schools coordinator of English learner, dual language, refugee, and migrant education. “There are quite a few families that live near Prairie Wind Elementary, and that was the deciding factor for us.”

Our district invites families to join the program. The goal is to empower them in their child’s education.


“By having the moms and dads come with our little ones, it provides that literacy-rich experience for them regardless of their age and hopefully provides some tools for those families that they can take back with them into their homes,” said Cogua.

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District News

Omaha Public Schools Updating Elementary Websites

Over the last year, Omaha Public Schools launched a new district website, followed by high school and middle school websites. Now, it’s time for our elementary schools!


Our district has already introduced the new look and easy-to-navigate design features for 27 elementary websites. The remaining sites will transition to the updated design in the months ahead.


The enhancements are family-focused, based on feedback, and full of district news and information for our students and families.  

Staff, Families Work Together to Support Regular School Attendance

This month is School Attendance Awareness Month. At Omaha Public Schools, Strive for 95 is our attendance focus to ensure students and families know the importance and impact of daily attendance.


Strive for 95 centers around students missing no more than nine days throughout the school year and arriving on time daily.


Students who maintain the Strive for 95 goals are more likely to be at or above grade level academically, be socially and emotionally connected to the school and staff and remain on track for high school graduation.


We encourage families to reach out to their student’s school for attendance support. Ensuring students arrive on time and attend school throughout the day is everyone’s responsibility.

Graduation Dates for Omaha Public Schools Class of 2023

Omaha Public Schools recently announced high school graduation dates for 2023.


Commencement ceremonies for our comprehensive high schools will take place May 23-25 at Baxter Arena. 


Visit our website to find the full schedule and other information under the Announcements section on the main page.

Omaha Public Schools Teacher Named Nebraska Art Educator of the Year

We are proud to recognize Joe Bristol, of Wakonda Elementary, for winning the Nebraska Art Teachers Association Art Educator of the Year award.


Bristol began his teaching career in 2015 at Wakonda, where he still teaches art. As a Burke High graduate, Bristol says he was inspired by influential art teachers growing up in our district. 


“I'm humbled that my colleagues in art education believe in me, and I am looking forward to this year's work,” said Bristol. “Right now, I'm mostly focused on what I need to do as an educator to positively impact my students.”


Bristol will officially receive the award during a conference in October.

September STEM Learning

Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director

You will fall for these September STEM programs. Search our comprehensive catalog for current and upcoming offerings for students, educators, and professionals. Here are some of our top picks for September.

  • Aviation STEM Day: Learn all about the different aspects of aviation and the possible education path to a career at Aviation STEM Day on September 24th. There will be exhibitors, presenters, and hands-on activities galore! This event is offered free by Aviation STEMAHA.
  • Kid Coders - Basic Game Design: Do you want to learn how to recreate the oldest video games in history? Join DoSpace in this free class to explore the basics of several coding concepts.

To register for these opportunities or to find more STEM programs, visit the STEM Community Platform Portal.

Community Opportunities

Check out this month's Community Opportunities. It provides a one-stop shop for youth and family events happening in our community.

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The Superintendent extends congratulations to...

... to Mike Hogan, host of KIOS, for winning both a gold and silver award at the Nebraska Broadcasters Association Pinnacle Awards competition.

… to Edison Elementary for logging the most minutes in our Summer Reading Challenge, and to all Omaha Public Schools elementary students for reading more than 1.6 million minutes. 

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Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.