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Lisbon readies for internationals

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LISBON – In January, Lisbon Central School will roll out a brand new program dedicated to attracting international students to learn within its walls.

Superintendent Erin E. Woods said the students will be “here for one year with the intention of going to an American university.”

Modeled on a similar program at Newcomb Central School, Ms. Woods said the program has the benefit of exposing students to different cultures while helping ensure the district stays fiscally viable.

The program would enable English speaking, high school age international students to study at Lisbon Central School for one year.

After getting approval from the federal department of Customs and Immigration Enforcement to issue academic visas in September, Lisbon has been discussing “the number of students we want to accept, the profile, the application process and coordinating it all,” said Ms. Woods.

Blake P. Gendebien, president of the Lisbon Board of Education said that getting approval to issue visas was a significant step forward for the school.

“The students who attend will have to pay tuition,” Ms. Woods said. “Is it going to be a money maker? Probably slightly.”

“Not until the program expands will we see it really generating funds for the district,” said Ms. Woods.

She pointed to Newcomb Central School, which has seen 60 international students cycle through its district during the last four years. “Newcomb was at the point where they were going to have to close their doors,” she said.

Ms. Woods said the international program saved the school by providing more funds to the district.

Beginning with between three and five students, Ms. Woods said that the first year will be a period of observation and correction.

While Lisbon, like other schools in the region, continues to suffer from limited state aid, Ms. Woods said the district is looking for solutions to budget crunches that don’t involve the state government.

“We can continue to try to do things more efficiently, save money, share services. That doesn’t require legislative action; it doesn’t require building additions or anything like that – or transferring students. We’re doing as much as we can to get immediate relief,” she said.

The school will begin reviewing applications for international students, who want to study in Lisbon in the fall of 2013, in March.

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