Lisbon schools to forgo Monday holiday to boost classroom time

LISBON – While most students around Columbiana County will be off Monday for President’s Day, their counterparts in Lisbon will not be so fortunate.

Lisbon students were scheduled to have President’s Day off, too, but the school board voted Wednesday to add two more school days to the current school calendar, with one of those being Monday, to make up for some of the school cancellations due to the weather.

“We really don’t like doing that this late, but we didn’t make the cold and snow,” said board President Jim Smith.

The state allows for school to be canceled five times during the year before districts have to begin making up those days, and Lisbon has canceled school seven times so far this winter. While the state legislature has been considering adding a few more so-called calamity days, the school board decided their students needed to be in class more, regardless of what occurs at the state level.

“It’s not a step you’ll see many districts take, but at this point we need to put time in with our students,” said Superintendent Don Thompson, who added there is no substitute for in-class time with teachers.

Smith agreed, saying, “More days off don’t create more education … I don’t like it, but we only have so many days to work with.”

This was a sentiment echoed by junior/high school Principal Joe Siefke, who thanked the board for adding the two days, especially Monday because some students are currently preparing to take the Ohio Graduation Test in March.

“They have to pass those OGTs to graduate,” Siefke said. “Their scores are not where they need to be, and we haven’t had the time to get those scores where they need to be.”

April 21, the Monday after Easter, is the other day that was added to the calendar, with plans to add June 2 if any more class days are canceled. Teachers were advised of the change and students were told at school, while an automated phone message notifying parents was sent Monday.

Board member Gene Gallo asked how this will work out for parents and teachers who made plans in advance for the long weekend. Thompson said staff can use personal leave time, while those students who fail to show up because their parents had plans will not be counted as an unexcused absence.

All of this is to change next year, when the state implements a new policy requiring students to attend school a combined amount of hours per year instead of 182 days. Thompson said the formula is based on a minimum school day of 5.5 hours, and Lisbon students attend school 6.1 hours per day.

Under the new formula, Lisbon is expected to be 87 hours in excess of the state minimum for class time, and future calamity days will also be measured in hours instead of days.