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Editorial, 9/22: First assignment an important step for superintendent | Editorial

Like thousands of Lincoln Public School students, Superintendent Paul Gausman just got his first major homework assignment of the school year, a task that will be one of the most important pieces of work during the new administrator’s tenure.

He’s now charged with developing the school district’s next five-year strategic plan, a process that will, in large part, set the future framework for the city’s schools.

The district’s last five-year plan, which expired this past summer, included adding focus programs, tackling overcrowding by building two new high schools and increasing the diversity of staff.

Now Gausman is charged with starting the process that will largely determine whether or when more new schools will be needed. Those decisions will be critical for Lincoln and its schools in the near future.

But the plan also must go beyond brick-and-mortar.

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To that end, the new plan should integrate the district’s equity plan that was released earlier this year. We’re certain that Gausman understands the importance of the initiative, dubbed the All Means All Action Plan that’s aimed at increasing the graduation rate and honors course enrollment, hiring certified staff and addressing student behavior across all student groups.

That plan charges everyone, from Gausman to every taxpaying citizen, with some measure of involvement in addressing those true educational issues.

Gausman is expected to present a report to the Board of Education in April 2023 that will detail the framework and timeline of the strategic planning process – a process that should and will involve input from staff, students, parents and the community.

Part of that framework may include asking the board to find an outside consultant to facilitate the process with the hopes of having at least the skeletal components of the plan in place by fall 2023.

That gives all of us, LPS staff, students, parents and the community, about a year to think about and, when the time is appropriate, provide input that can be incorporated into the new strategic plan.

Providing input into the planning process, whether informally as Gausman meets with students, staff and community members during his current transition period or as part of the process when it is established, is the best opportunity for anyone, including critics, to influence Lincoln Public Schools going forward.

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