Lisbon School Committee to fill vacancy following death of Gina Mason

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LISBON — The School Committee on Monday held a moment of silence for Gina Mason before discussing how to fill her position on the panel within 30 days.

“Gina Mason came on the board a few years back,” Chairwoman Traci Austin said. “I think being able to work on the School Committee gave her a little bit more of an insight when heading to Augusta,” where she served in the Legislature. “She will be missed in all the groups she chaired and helped with.”

The committee declared her vacancy Monday night. The deadline for letters of interest is Sept. 29 and interviews will be held Oct. 9.

The person named to the seat will serve until the election in November.

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“We have to, by law (fill Mason’s position within 30 days), otherwise it would make more sense to wait until our general election,” Austin said.

In other business, the committee voted to approve two overseas trips for Lisbon Explorers. The first is to China in April 2018 and the second trip is to the British Isles in April 2019.

“These experiences vastly change their outlook on the world when they experience these cultures firsthand,” Pam Ouellette, Lisbon High School art teacher and organizer of Lisbon Explorers, said. “It isn’t cheap, but it is a very good value for the money they pay.”

The cost includes a 24/7 tour director, airfare, hotels, meals, entrances to the activities organized and a number of local guides, Ouellette said.

Additional costs, including tips and transportation to Logan airport, are paid through fundraisers by the Lisbon Explorers.

“This is quite ambitious. A lot of students in the school system will be shut out because of the cost,” committee member Pete Reed said.

Reed voted against the action, citing Lisbon not being a rich community and other places in the United States that are worthy of traveling for their history and lower-cost transportation.

“Students make choices in whether or not they want to set a goal and reach it,” Austin said. “I think we need to be stewards in allowing them to make those decisions with their families. I don’t see the harm in allowing the opportunity in being there.”

The next committee meeting is at 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Town Office.

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