Lisbon BOE continues web school

LISBON – The Lisbon school board will renew its online school for another year, although they will have to look for someone new to run the program.

The online school, begun last year as an option for the increasing number of Lisbon students choosing to attend cyber schools, achieved enough success that school Superintendent Don Thompson recommended it be continued.

“The number one purpose was to stop the bleeding, and I’m able to say we did that,” Thompson said.

At the time Lisbon approved started an online school the district had 61 students attending other cyber schools, with the resulting decline in enrollment translating into a $137,760 loss in state funding, which is based on enrollment.

Charles Little, the online school coordinator, reported 48 students signed up for the online school, 22 of whom withdrew, with 13 returning to Lisbon, while nine left the district. Thompson said the online school costs about $45,000 to operate and the district received $35,000 in state funding in return.

Little said although he was encouraged by the fact they only lost nine students, the online group performed poorly and there were problems with the lack of engagement among students.

“I didn’t feel they were enjoying the online experience,” he said.

Little wondered if some of the problem was due to lack of parental supervision during school hours to ensure the work was being done. Steve Stewart, Lisbon’s director of technology and federal programs, said that is a problem common among all cyber schools.

“Most kids who go online aren’t motivated and are undisciplined. A lot of times it comes down to who’s at home,” Stewart said.

Little recommended they become more proactive in the area of parental involvement to ensure their child is logging on and doing the work. He also suggested requiring online students who are struggling to attend the in-school online work lab once a week to get more face time with instructors.

“They get lost. They really do. It just can’t be helped,” he said of those students.

Little, who had just retired when he agreed to return as the online school coordinator, submitted his resignation during last week’s meeting, saying he intends to retire for good. The board thanked him for agreeing to take on the responsibility of getting the program up and running.

“You’ve never been afraid to roll up your sleeves and do what needed to be done,” said board President Jim Smith.