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JPA

Nearly 100 community leaders gathered April 5 for the official announcement of a proposed joint public agency to support community learning centers, mental health services and school resource officers.

MARGARET REIST, Journal Star file photo

Lincoln City Council members will on Monday consider an interlocal agreement between the public schools and the city that would address school security issues.

The city council and Lincoln Board of Education have agreed to look at a revised interlocal agreement, instead of the initially proposed joint public agency, to administer and fund what's being called the Safe and Successful Kids initiative.

The council will discuss and may vote on the interlocal agreement at its Monday meeting, according to Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird, who worked with Councilman Roy Christensen and school board member Lanny Boswell on what is being called a compromise.

“I want to thank our community for sharing their thoughts and priorities with the School Board and City Council,” Boswell said in a news release issued Sunday. “I am proud to live in a city that values safe and successful kids and to work with leaders who ensured those values and priorities are reflected in the interlocal agreement. This process was a great start to continued cooperation between the City and the School District, in service to our community’s children.”

The school board will vote on the measure later this month.

The interlocal agreement includes many of the same provisions as those presented in plans for a joint public agency, including support for after-school programs, pay for more mental health services in schools and additional middle school resource officers, but doesn't bring with it the specific taxing authority granted a JPA.

Mayor Chris Beutler and Superintendent Steve Joel originally proposed creating the joint public agency, a quasi governmental unit that would oversee the Safe and Successful Kids program and would have the authority to levy a property tax of 1 cent per $100 in valuation.

Though a majority of the school board and the city council appear to favor the JPA as proposed, public opposition has mounted to creating a new taxing authority. Many opponents to a JPA said they could support the schools and city working jointly through an interlocal agreement.

“I want to thank the Mayor for his leadership in proposing the Safe and Successful Kids Initiative,” Gaylor Baird said in the release. “The City Council and School Board all agreed with the goals he set. As different ideas about how to get this done emerged, we all listened and compromised. A lot of people listening and being thoughtful about what’s best for our community makes for good government. I’m pleased that, together with our non-profit partners, LPS and City leaders are strengthening our commitment to improve the lives of our City’s children.”

As originally drafted the interlocal agreement called for the city and the school district to each levy up to a half-cent on the property tax.

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The first draft of the interlocal agreement also called for the program to be operated by two administrators, one from the schools and one from the city.

The new draft eliminates the half-cent tax levy by the city and school district and instead requires the city and school district to each contribute $1.05 million in the first year, with an escalator clause built into future budgets.

The interlocal agreement under consideration also replaces the two administrators with a six-member governing group, identical to the governing group set out in JPA plans.

That group would include the mayor, two council members and three school board members. Any decision would require the support of at least two school board members and two city representatives, so neither group could rule on its own.

The interlocal agreement also establishes a nonprofit group, representing the nonprofit agencies that now run most of the community learning center after-school programs.

“Community Learning Centers impact the lives of children, improving test scores and creating new opportunities for learning and success,” Beutler said. “We have worked for years to find a solution that ensures their future, and the interlocal agreement is a giant step forward. Mental health services, threat assessment and School Resource Officers will help us better protect our children and our community. It is a comprehensive approach to safety and learning that will make a difference to children across the City for years to come.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks

 

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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