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Lincoln Public Schools Budget – July 2012

Lincoln Public Schools Tax Shift

Once again, Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) is shifting dollars from one pocket to another… and isn’t it sad that they are almost forced to do this with their budget. LPS was lucky enough to reduce “bond” funding so their bond levy is going down. But instead of the Lincoln taxpayers seeing property tax relief, LPS is increasing the General fund levy.
I know WHY they are doing it. Some State Senators are badgering LPS because they are requesting more state aid while LPS remains below its levy lid. They say LPS should be taxing at its maximum if they need more money.
Now is the time for LPS to publically challenge state Senators. Now is the time to make every effort to change the state law so that LPS can provide property tax relief to taxpayers without being penalized by the state aid formula.
LPS is being penalized because they currently don’t suck every penny they can from the property taxpayers pocket.
LPS has special and unique challenges, with a diverse population and a growing student body. Isn’t it sad that Lincoln taxpayers have to be financially punished for gaping holes in a flawed state aid formula? I am willing to stand with LPS in promoting change in the state aid formula.
In other budget areas, LIBA encourages LPS to review building level staffing with fresh eyes much like they have done with the Special Education program and find efficiencies yet still providing necessary services for kids. LIBA’s concern is that too few of the building staff are actually in front of the students.
We would like to see the budget enhanced in future years to mirror the city budget format which breaks out FTE’s at building level, department level and by the position they hold.
LIBA encourages LPS to continue to review the Administration Handbook and consider capping the annual leave that is allowed to be rolled over. The changes in 2010 were a step in the right direction but uncapped annual Leave, that can result in a large payout at retirement, seems to be an excessive perk.
We would also urge LPS to lobby the State Legislature to reconsider the parameters of the NE Public Employee Pension Plan (NPERS)1. The 10% contribution increase required of both employee and District is making the plan unaffordable. The increase removes money from the Nebraska economy and limits the additional jobs that could have been funded. Allowing public school employees working only 15 hours a week to participate in the retirement program and permitting them to retire as early as age 55 are excessive benefits that must be changed.
Today over 40% of our students are receiving free and reduced lunch. LIBA would therefore, urge LPS to constantly remind State Senators that any increase in property taxes makes it more difficult for these families to have affordable housing.