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Lisbon looking to build a “virtual merger”

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LISBON – In an effort to foster educational opportunities without increasing the school’s financial obligations, Lisbon Central School has begun looking into mutually beneficial web-based cooperatives with other schools.

Stressing that the discussion is in its infancy, Superintendent Erin E. Woods said she met with the administration at Madrid-Waddington Central School to work on establishing an online webinar service between the schools. “It’s not a done deal,” she said.

“We would use existing teachers; we already have the technology,” Marc A. Montroy, member of the Lisbon Board of Education, said.

Lisbon contracts with St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES to provide a distance learning center at the school to the tune of $43,000 a year.

“It’s being used mostly for college classes,” Mr. Montroy said.

But the Board of Education and the school administration is looking for other ways to utilize the room as well.

“We can be using it for webinars, for AP classes,” Blake P. Gendebien, president of the Lisbon Board of Education, said.

“It’s like a virtual merger,” Mr. Montroy said. “You get some of those opportunities back for smaller schools. We would use existing teachers, we already have the technology.”

And Mr. Gendebien said the beauty of a web-based sharing of services is it doesn’t matter where the teacher is located.

In order to begin, however, schools would have to match up their schedules to ensure students are able to meet with teachers.

“It seems cheaper to me to manipulate schedules than to merge high schools,” Mr. Gendebien said, noting that the schedule at Madrid-Waddington is only one minute different than the one at Lisbon.

“It’s a good fit,” Lisbon Principal Eric S. Burke said.

The focus would be on upper-level advanced placement classes.

“It probably isn’t going to save us money; it’s going to provide opportunities for kids,” Ms. Woods said, adding that she doesn’t expect the virtual programs to cost anything extra either.

“We’re not looking to hire,” she said. “We’re looking for ways for our students to participate in electives they may offer, and their students participate in ours, but all online.”

The school will also be losing two full time positions at the school at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

Three teachers are retiring and the school is only planning on replacing the Biology and Chemistry teacher, Becky Buckingham.

Patty Lashua, a teacher’s aide, and Georgi Duprey, a health and home economics teacher, are both retiring as well.

“I think we’re going to try to do some restructuring to cover those areas,” Mr. Montroy said.

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