Superintendent Gausman presents mid-year transition report to Board of Education


You can view the report presentation slides here.

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Paul Gausman presented his mid-year transition report to the Lincoln Board of Education during a recent Board meeting. Nebraska Law requires that new superintendents be evaluated twice in their first year.  As such, the Board gave LPS Gausman a goal of a mid-year transition report by Nov. 22. 

Board President Don Mayhew introduced Gausman by saying, “I remind all of us that this report includes those preliminary findings, emerging themes, and potential recommendations, but does not include finalized recommendations for action at this time.  This report will simply touch base on where he is in the process of transitioning into the  school district. Final findings, themes, and recommendations will come as a part of the end of this process in April.”

Gausman opened with a description of the two objectives of the process: To provide a seamless transition in superintendent leadership while learning about Lincoln and LPS; and to develop relationships with stakeholders while listening to their perspectives regarding challenges and items of celebration in Lincoln and the LPS.

“What I’m referring to is quasi-qualitative research,” added Gausman “These findings aren’t random. We had prescribed organizations and people that I met with and interviewed. I want to point out that the conclusions are not absolute. People watching this may hear something and say ‘I don’t agree with that.’ And that is ok. This is simply a finding at this time.”

He went on to say that some of these might be real, or perceived items within the school district. Some things happening might not need changed, but perhaps stronger communication within our community about what programs and offerings we have at LPS.

There were three main questions that Gausman asked the stakeholders he met with. The first being what should be maintained that have helped LPS be successful?  Themes of responses to the first question - in no priority order - included that LPS and Lincoln put students first and the community supports the school district. There is an equity of facilities, supports and staff in all parts of Lincoln, and school choice is already happening. The community feels like they are aware of what is happening in LPS due to the level of communication and content creation. There is metric-driven leadership with data-driven decisions being made. Stakeholders are proud of our staff, the professional development, and the confidence to make a difference in a child’s life. Support staff are strong across the board. Partnerships are what help LPS be successful. Students are at the center of the Board of Education’s work. Finally, that LPS develops and maintains lifelong learning.

The second question asked what should be changed or added for student success? Themes that emerged included support for Human Resources.

“We are in one of the toughest times in history as it relates to Human Resources,” said Gausman. “Our community, and particularly our internal community, thinks we can do even more if we bolster our Human Resources department. This is not to criticize our colleagues in HR, it is simply recognizing that we need to give them more help.”

There was a theme to look at classified staff member pay and look at market rates. Also looking at communicating resources for staff mental health supports. 

Equity education strength and focus was another theme that emerged with the second question. As a school district, the need to continue growing in understanding of ethnicities and cultures. 

There was also a theme to work on partnerships to grow and expand early childhood education. Also partnerships with the legislature, State Board of Education and local entities to help them understand what is happening within our schools. 

Student behavior supports also became a theme with looking at culture and climate of learning, expanding and strengthening social media and digital citizenship, expand mental health supports, communicating with the community about programs to address student bullying, and how student involvement in activities matters to student success.

Gausman spoke of the need for more strategic communication with families and communities on the high school offerings and choices students have to forge their education path. 

The final theme under the second question includes considering where we must be bureaucratic vs. where can LPS allow autonomy.

The final question asked about the highest priorities. Gausman said six themes rose to the top:

  • Human Resources Supports: Retention and Recruitment
  • Early Childhood Partnerships and Growth
  • High School Offerings Focus, Choice, and Communication
  • Strategic Planning Roadmap for Future
  • All Means All Action Plan Focus on Equity
  • Unicameral and Other Political Communication and Partnership

Gausman added, “You asked me to suggest at this time…as we move forward together, and in partnership with our experts, what would we do to strengthen our work positionally and departmentally.”

Gausman said that number one, LPS needs to get more support positions in the Human Resources department to help them do their work, which in turn helps every staff member. There also needs to be a focus on retaining staff, hiring more substitutes and building the pipeline of educators. 

Second, focus on equity across all departments for all students and families. This includes training for staff and students and serving all staff and students.

“We’ve had incredible equity leadership in this school district with Dr. Price being the equity director. She was doing two jobs, she was so good. Dr. Price was promoted. I think it’s time to talk about having our own equity department with its own team. This is a model the district had in the past, and we may need to get back to it,” said Gausman.

Third, LPS needs to do more to develop the cycle with assessment and instruction. Context of the involvement between assessment and instruction will come later.

Positive student behavior and supports that go with it is the fourth focus. Gausman said this will take some focus, budget and positions. LPS will need to look at putting systems in district-wide to support the highly mobile student population.

Growing the talent pipeline is the final priority area conceptually.

As part of his goals, Gausman will give an update to the Board in April 2023.

Published: November 23, 2022, Updated: November 23, 2022