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LPS board gives administrators emergency powers so officials can respond to unfolding pandemic
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LPS board gives administrators emergency powers so officials can respond to unfolding pandemic

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The Lincoln Board of Education on Wednesday gave district officials the authority to alter the work schedules of its more than 6,000 employees and make other decisions without board approval in the coming weeks as the coronavirus pandemic plays out.

It’s only the second time in recent history that the board has approved such an emergency powers resolution. The first was in May 2011, when the district office building burned to the ground.

“The world has changed a lot in a very short amount of time and we need to give our superintendent the ability to act in a short amount of time in the best interests of our kids,” said board member Don Mayhew.

The resolution, passed unanimously by the board, allows Superintendent Steve Joel and other top administrators to act quickly in a rapidly changing situation, said Jim Gessford, the attorney who represents the board.

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The resolution ratifies actions the district already has taken in regard to the coronavirus pandemic and will remain in effect until the board decides the emergency is over.

After the board passed the resolution, LPS administrators sent an email to staff, saying supervisors would direct employees’ work assignments, the district wouldn’t authorize overtime and insurance coverage would continue.

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Most employees — including teachers and para-educators — won’t report to work, but will remain on call and supervisors will let them know what work they’re expected to do. They'll be paid as if they are working. Some hourly employees, such as gifted mentors and interpreters, will be paid when asked to work. 

Administrators, office personnel and some others will initially report to work and will be directed by supervisors. They’ll be paid normally.

Employees who can’t work as directed will need to use leave or not be paid.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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Local government reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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