Lisbon Boe battling rising ESC costs

LISBON – The cost of contracting with the Columbiana County Educational Service Center is costing the Lisbon school district close to a half-million dollars per year.

The school board renewed a number of contracts for services with the ESC at this week’s meeting, with Superintendent Don Thompson saying this represented an increase from last year, “and that’s not a good thing when we are seeing a flat line in our money.”

The board, like many others, contracts with the ESC to provide specialized services to mentally and physically handicapped students and those with other special needs.

Thompson reported the district has paid an average of $483,000 annually for those services over the past four years. He said some of this is due to state funding cuts suffered by the ESC, which passes those cuts on to its customers in the form of higher fees.

Another reason is the increase in students with special needs and at a much earlier age. “We are starting to see more challenging students popping up than we’ve ever seen before, with more special needs,” he said.

Following are the ESC service contracts approved by the board: $50,582, school psychologist; speech/language therapist, $38,169: gifted and talented coordinator, $15,022; and daily fees of between $28 per quarter hour to $91 per day for alternate and opportunity school, preschool, and physical and occupational therapy.