Lisbon wants to know how people feel about school safety

LISBON – Lisbon school parents, students and other interested citizens are invited to a community event on Thursday to learn about the district’s existing safety plans and to ask questions.

The community forum, to be held at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, was announced at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

“We’re inviting the public to come in to hear what we do regarding school safety, and then we’ll listen to any concerns the public, parents, etc, might have,” said school board member Jim Smith following the meeting.

Superintendent Don Thompson said they chose Thursday because parent-teacher conferences are already scheduled that day, giving those parents the opportunity to attend the event since they will already be there.

Smith said the staff will run the meeting, not the board, and explain the district’s school safety plan. They will also take questions and comments from the audience.

“This is the same kind of approach we took” when the board was formulating a drug-testing policy, he said. “The board may be there, but we are only there to listen to what the people have to say.”

Although no one said so, the topic on everyone’s mind is the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Thompson said another reason for the forum is to make the public aware of their efforts to combat bullying, which is a component of the school safety plan. The district’s anti-bullying policy has come under fire lately from three mothers who say their sons were bullied at school.

Smith said the important message they hope to impart is that Lisbon, like every other school district, has a security plan in place.

“We want to let them know we do have a plan and this is just not a reaction to recent events,” he said.

Board member Gene Gallo indicated the tendency when something like this happens is to overreact, regardless of whether it is warranted. “I guess I have a problem when something happens and everybody feels like you have to do something,” he said.

Gallo expressed confidence in their plan, adding the chances of a shooting occurring in Lisbon or any school “are just not that high.”

Thompson said the purpose of the community forum is to allay any public concerns. “I don’t think we’re overreacting,” he said.

Lisbon administrators already attended a school safety seminar hosted by a Columbiana police officer two weeks ago, and the board approved having the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy come here on March 27 to conduct school safety training for staff.

Thompson said the one thing they are not considering is allowing their teachers who have concealed-carry permits come to school armed. “The board is not in favor of that,” he said.