Lisbon educators seeing the benefits of truancy prevention program

LISBON — School officials said the decision to hire a local agency to help the district comply with the new state truancy law was money well spent.

In August, the school board agreed to contract with the Family Recovery Center for $4,320 to assist in complying with the truancy law passed last December by the state legislature, which requires districts to develop individual absence intervention plans to address the reasons why a particular student is habitually absent. Truant students can no longer be suspended for skipping school or cited into court if their absences begin to accumulate.

Assistant Junior/Senior High School Principal Kyle Bing told the board at this week’s meeting that using the FRC in partnership with the local ADAPT Coalition — a drug-and-alcohol abuse prevention organization — to develop an intervention plan “has helped us tremendously.”

Students are designated habitually truant when they miss the equivalent of five consecutive days or more, seven days within a month or 12 days in a year. The state says excused absences are to be excluded in determining a habitually truant student. But Lisbon officials and those from other local school districts disagree, saying the law requires excused and unexused absences be counted the same, which makes no sense to them.

Bing said there is one student currently on an intervention plan, and Junior-Senior High School Principal Keith Edenfield pointed out their attempts to reduce the chronic truancy rate before the law was implemented have paid off by lowering the truancy rate by 4 percent.

In other action:

–Superintendent Joseph Siefke told the board to begin thinking about replacing the scoreboard at the football field because it is leaking and freezing up. He said they have made several attempts to correct the problems but to no avail.

“The problem is it’s old, and it needs replaced, and it’s not cheap,” he said.

Scoreboards can run from $20,000 to $100,000 or more, with Siefke noting the video component of Salem’s football field scoreboard cost $50,000 alone.

“You can be as elaborate or as basic as you want,” he said.

–The board agreed to create the new position of fiscal assistant/elementary school secretary and appointed elementary school secretary Lisa McCoy to the position.

This was done on the recommendation of Treasurer Vickie Browning-Prowitt, who said she and the assistant treasurer need more help in keeping up with the ever-increasing state and federal mandates and reporting requirements. She said McCoy was the perfect fit because as secretary she was already performing many of the same duties.

Siefke was glad they were able to come to solution without having to hire an additional employee.

McCoy will go from working 7.5 hours per day to 8 hours, and her salary will increase by $8,900 per year.

–The board accepted the resignation of Sara Boyd as eighth-grade girls basketball coach and replaced her with Tiffany Ketchum.

–The board approved holding the prom on May 4 at the The Vineyards at Pine Lake near Columbiana and the after prom immediately afterwards at Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park Resort in Erie, Pa.