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Lisbon schools avoiding remote

LISBON — While some school districts have been going back and forth between in-school and remote learning as students and staff test positive for COVID-19, Lisbon School Superintendent Joe Siefke plans to ride it out for as long as possible because that is the right thing to do for students.

“I believe the school is a safe place to be and I believe it’s the best way to educate kids,” he told the school board at Thursday’s meeting. “As school districts are doing different things – going remote, taking time off – we are steering and staying the course, as we always have.”

A total of eight students and staff have tested positive since school started on Aug. 24,

“We’re fortunate right now. Things might change at the drop of a hat, but right now we’re healthy. The staff is healthy, and kids want to be here and parents are sending them. And we want to continue face-to-face education as long as we can,” he said.

Siefke’s comments came on the same day Gov. Mike DeWine increased the county’s virus threat level from Level 2 to Level 3 (red) because of a spike in the number of positive cases and other factors.

At Level 3, school districts have the option of sticking with in-school classes. A move to Level 4 (purple) would likely result in schools closing again, with all students learning online from home like they were forced to do in the spring.

“We’re going to try to do this for as long as we can,” Sieke said.

At the start of the school year, 14 percent of parents opted to have their child learn online from home. The number of parents choosing the online option has increased to 23 percent for the second nine-weeks grading period.

In other action at the board meeting, treasurer Vickie Browing-Prowitt presented a revised five-year financial forecast that shows the district’s healthy cash balance could disappear in five years if they continue to spend more money than they take in.

School districts are required to prepare financial forecasts every spring and fall, and Lisbon’s most recent forecast shows the district spent $176,000 more than it took in during the 2019-20 school year. That is expected to escalate until deficit spending reaches $1.1 million in the 2023-24 school year.

Lisbon ended the most recent school year with a $3.3 million carryover balance, which will drop to $2.8 million next year before nearly disappearing during the 2023-24 school year as more of the balance is needed to end the year in the black.

“We’ve been deficit spending and that trend is continuing, and that’s very concerning for the district,” she said, adding at some point the board will need to address the problem.

In other business, the board:

— Agreed to spend $1,500 to update the district’s website. This was last done five years ago, and several board members suggested improvements were needed to make it more user friendly and informative.

— Accepted the retirement notices of physical education teacher and coach Dave Crismon and special education coordinator David Brookes. Both are retiring at the end of the school year.

— Accepted the resignations of instructional aide Lou Thompson and preschool aide Linsey Peterson and then hired Peterson to replace Thompson.

— Named Jamie Wise 8th grade boys basketball coach, Preston Stiff 7th grade boys basketball coach, and Abbey Brammer and Josh Rhodes as 7th-8th grade girls basketball coaches.

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