LPS: $486 million in unfunded needs over the next decade

LINCOLN, Neb. - The city of Lincoln is growing, but the population of Lincoln Public Schools is growing faster. This week, LPS held a workshop for its school board to learn just how fast the district is going and what's needed over the next decade.

According to the district, it has $486 million in unfunded needs. That includes renovations and up to seven new schools. The district has increased in size by about 8,000 students since 2007, with nearly 1,000 new kids this year. The current enrollment is about 40,930 students.

"It's great Lincoln is a growing city," board member Lanny Boswell told 10/11 News. "It's great we have more students receiving an excellent education."

Boswell noted that while the city of Lincoln is growing by about 1.2-percent every year, the schools are growing by 2.2-percent. It's an indicator that the city is getting younger.

According to the school district the population increase can be attributed to a variety of factors, including more rural residents moving to the city, families wanting to stay and have children, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's impact and the momentum of Silicon Prairie.

Over the next ten years, the district says it'll likely need four more elementary schools, two new middle schools and a new high school. That's on top of the new Moore Middle School that's being built near 84th Street and Yankee Hill. It's scheduled to open in fall 2017.

The district says significant upgrades are also needed at Campbell, Cavett, Maxey and Roper elementary schools, as well as Lux and Scott Middle Schools. Various renovations will need to be done at Lincoln High, Lincoln East, Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Southeast. According to LPS, a total of 26 schools across the district will need additions and improvements.

So, how much could it cost the taxpayer?

"The last two bond issues voters passed were both issues that didn't raise the tax levy," Boswell said, noting that the district waited for its debt to fall off. "We'll continue to look closely for those kind of opportunities."

The school board says it could vote and adopt a revised ten year plan sometime this spring. According to Boswell, a new LPS bond vote likely wouldn't be until 2020 or 2021.