Scott Wieskamp, Director of Lincoln Public School Operations, was our speaker at Lincoln South Rotary Club on January 29, 2021. He was accompanied by Kevin Nelms - we were happy to have them both there.
Scott has been with the Lincoln Public Schools for 22 years. And prior to that he spent 14 years as an architect focusing on school design. He is very familiar, not only with school buildings, but with education and the changing needs.
He started by thanking us, not only for asking him to be our speaker, but for our support of bond issues over the years. He said the trend is that we have had a bond issue about every 7 years. There have been three during his time at LPS and each passed with a nearly 2 to 1 margin. This latest bond issue was for $290 million with 62% approval votes. The reality is that, the day after a bond issue passes, they start marketing for the next one. They make sure the funds are used wisely so that the community continues their support.
It has been 20 years since the last schools were built. The newest high schools in Lincoln - Southwest and North Star were opened in 2002 and 2003. The next two, being built due to this latest bond issue will open in 2022 and 2023.
Scott talked about the cost for building and maintaining schools. Lincoln High School was opened in 1915 at a cost of $584,756.25. The new schools will cost $60 million. With good maintenance, upgrades and remodeling, school buildings can be useful for years - example is that the Lincoln High School has been utilized for over 100 years. The initial cost of a new LPS Facility will end up being less than 5% of the overall historical operations investment for the life of that facility. With the 2006 bond issue, $100 million was used to remodel the 4 existing high schools in addition to building the two new ones.
The LPS board adopted a strong sustainabiity policy:
  • The board is committed to the responsible stewardship of energy, water and other natural resources
  • To create healthy environments for teaching and learning; and 
  • To support sustainability as an economic, environmental and social priority throughout the District
The new buildings are designed using LEED standards (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). New roofs will be designed to be solar ready. They design to ensure water efficiency. And, they use materials that are durable, repairable and reusable or 80% recyclable. They incorporate teachable moments about the construction process and energy efficiency. They have some community gardens that also provide opportunity for teaching students gardening and the vegetables are used in the nutrition classes. All buildings use geothermal energy.
As they were designing the new schools, they toured schools all over the country, studying specific sustainable investments. Using those ideas, they had multiple brainstorming sessions to come up with an effective plan. Some of the schools visited were in
  • Kearney, Nebraska
  • Olathe, Kansas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Springfield, Ohio
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Allen, Texas 
They have a 10-year facilities & infrastructure plan considering these factors
  • Enrollment Growth
  • Program Deficiencies
  • Curriculum Delivery / Technology
  • Safety & Security
  • Sustainability Practices
  • Protecting Our Investment
With the 2020 School Bond, two new high schools will be built but there will also be changes to all other buildings, such as:
  • Two new high schools
  • buildings have identical design to save time and money
  • 1,000 student capacity
  • Park Middle School Air Quality upgrade and other improvements
  • Wysong Elementary additions
  • Scott and Lux Middle School additions
  • Lincoln Northeast enhancements
Scott walked us through the intense coordination that is needed for a project the size of a new school building. They carefully select the materials to be used and visit the manufacturing plants to see the process and ensure the quality. They also coordinate the management of the waste materials.
He showed us aerial views of the progress of the construction of the two new high schools.
Click here to view a shortened version of Scott's power point including the aerial views of the construction progress.
The Director of Operations oversees the Custodial Services, Maintenance and Facilities departments. This includes:
•    Architecture
•    Construction
•    Design and Planning
•    Cabinet Making
•    Carpentry    
•    Concrete and Masonry
•    Custodial Services
•    Computer Repair
•    Electrical
•    HVAC    
•    Plumbing
•    Playgrounds
•    Mowing
•    Snow Removal
•    Swimming Pools