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Lisbon readies for internationals

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LISBON — Lisbon Central School in January will begin a new program dedicated to attracting international students.

Superintendent Erin E. Woods said last week that the tuition-paying 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, the program has the benefit of exposing students to different cultures while helping ensure the district stays fiscally viable, Ms. Woods said.

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

After getting approval in September from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to issue academic visas, 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 receiving federal 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 hosted 60 international students during the past four years. “Newcomb was at the point where they were going to have to close their doors,” she said.

Starting with three to five students, the first year for Lisbon will be a period of observation and correction, Ms. Woods said.

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,” she said. “That doesn’t require legislative action; it doesn’t require building additions or anything like that – or transferring students.”

The school will begin reviewing applications in March for students who want to come in starting in the fall of 2013.

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