LPS working on plan to address learning loss using $63 million in federal funding

10/11 NOW at 5
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 8:37 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public School students could see longer days, more opportunities for summer school or extra supports in the classroom, these are all ways the district is considering to accelerate student learning, making up for lost time during the pandemic.

They’re making these decisions right now because the deadline for publishing how they’ll spend $63 million in federal funding is quickly approaching.

Matt Larson, Associate Superintendent for Instruction, told 10/11 NOW the areas in which students struggled the most through the pandemic was reading and math, so they’re brainstorming ways to make that up.

One of those ideas was extending the school day for the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.

“We know that more instructional time leads to more curriculum learned,” Larson said.

The district, in partnership with the Lincoln Education Association, sent out a survey to more than 2,400 LPS staff about this idea. The results showed 51% of elementary teachers were opposed, 55% of middle school teachers were opposed and 56% of high school teachers were opposed.

Deb Rasmussen, president of the Lincoln Education Association said these results weren’t a surprise.

“We have kids after last year who are burned out and tired,” Rasmussen said. “We have staff who are tired. We have to look at quality versus quantity and we feel there are other ways to help students.

Among the reasons teachers listed for opposing the extended school days were concerns that both students and teachers would be too tired to work efficiently at the end of the day, that family events and extracurricular activities would interfere with extended days and that the proposed 30 minute extension wouldn’t make a meaningful difference.

Larson said this idea is just one of many and they will be taking these survey results under advisement.

“We’re also looking at adding interventionists in school buildings, professional learning for teachers, increased plan time in the summers, summer school options,” Larson said.

This summer, LPS offered summer school to all grade levels. Rasmussen offered that as a better way to spend the money.

“To make up learning or add enrichment,” Rasmussen said. “That’d be perfect.”

Larson said a first draft of the plan will be published on the district’s website September 1. At that time they’ll ask for public input until a final draft will be sent to the Nebraska Department of Education September 15.

In total, the district has received nearly $100 million in this type of federal funding, called ESSER funding. It’s been used for PPE, masks and cleaning supplies as well as the remote learning program.

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