Lincoln Public Schools and Southeast Community College are teetering on the verge of a decision that could change the lives of Nebraskan students, especially those interested in manufacturing or STEM careers. The catch? A $153 million Lincoln Public Schools bond request, hinging on the approval of a mail-in vote.
Margaret Reist of the Lincoln Journal-Star reported on Wednesday that LPS and Southeast Community College are planning to build a $25 million dollar Career Center, $12.5 million of which would be funded by the LPS-proposed bond. The Career Center would be a two-story building on the SCC campus that would allow students to have hands-on experience in a variety of manufacturing and technical jobs that aren’t normally specifically taught in public schools.
This idea comes close on the coattails of reports that the demand for skilled workers in Nebraska is rapidly growing with no one to fill them due to the lack of training at a primary and secondary school level.
“I think it’s a really big deal for Lincoln,” Lincoln Chamber of Commerce president Wendy Birdsall told the Journal-Star. “It’s a really important next step for our school system.”
The proposed 120,675 square foot center would house instruction and experience in fields including agriculture, food and natural resources, business, health services, human sciences, education, and more. And actually, Lincoln is last to jump on this bandwagon: Millard and Grand Island School districts have similar programs and Omaha Public Schools has a program for construction trades.
The impediment to the center being constructed is, as mentioned, the popular vote. Ballots were sent out to and are due back, signed and mailed, by February 11 to pass the vote for the bond.
The $153 million bond would help build the Career Center, as well as build a new middle school, introduce security upgrades, pay for roofing and bleacher replacements, a new elementary school, technology upgrades, heating and cooling system improvements, and more. The district would also use $7.3 million dollars in federally issued bonds to complete the project.
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Photo credit: Lincoln Electric