Lisbon may wave waiver goodbye

LISBON — The school board has been asked to think about whether now is the time to eliminate the practice of waiving the $25 annual general instructional fee charged students in grades K-8.

Superintendent Joe Siefke suggested at last week’s board meeting they may want to consider eliminating the fee, which costs the district about $8,000 a year, given that voters have twice rejected a proposed 1 percent school income tax officials say is needed to offset a projected budget deficit in 2021.

“We’re not in the best of financial shape,” and the voters have turned down the proposed income tax, he noted.

The practice of waiving the fee just for students in K-8 was begun eight years ago under former superintendent Don Thompson, and Siefke said now might be the time to revisit the matter given the district’s finances.

The state legislature is currently working on a new two-year budget that could result in additional $300,000 in state education funding for Lisbon over that period, Siefke noted. “Does it solve our problems, no, but it helps,” he said of the additional funding.

There are 600 youths in grades K-8, which means the district on the surface would appear to be absorbing the $15,000 cost of continuing to waive the $25 fee. Siefke pointed out about half the students qualify for free or reduced lunches, which automatically entitles them to a fee waiver, reducing the actual financial impact to $8,000.

The board said it would think about Siefke’s suggestion and act on the fee waiver at the next meeting on July 13. “It think it’s fair to consider, no question about it,” said board president Gene Gallo.

In other action at the meeting, the board:

— Renewed its contract with Great Lakes Biomedical to continue drug testing high school students who participate in sports and extracurricular activities, at a cost of $14 per test, which is the same as this year. The program costs the district less than $3,000 per year.

— Agreed to continue with its online school for students who choose to use this option. Twenty-two students took anywhere from one to five online classes this past year, which cost the district about $5,000 this year.

“Our online school gives our kids the opportunity to take classes that don’t fit into their schedule,” Siefke said.

— Renewed the varsity head coaching contracts of boys basketball coach Chris Hucksold and girls basketball coach Jamie Entrikin.

“They both have been around and do a good job,” Siefke said.

— Renewed its liability insurance policy with Holloway Insurance of Lisbon at a cost of $46,176, which represents a $1,000 increase over the current school year.

— Renewed the contract with Gardiner Trane for maintenance of the district’s heating and cooling systems at a cost of $14,208, which represents a $416 increase.