LISBON — Things are messy inside Gartley Street School.

“Use your imagination,” Principal Kristie Morin said as she gave a tour.

Boxes, shelving, wooden planks and ceiling tiles were everywhere.

When the new school opens Aug. 31, classrooms will be neat and orderly with ample space for two new programs the Lisbon School Department is launching: one for students with emotional problems and another for high school students who need alternative classes.

Lisbon is opening the programs in the former Lisbon Elementary School building.

“I’m excited,” Lisbon Superintendent Rick Green said. “This is something that came together quickly during budget season. We were fortunate. We have the right personnel. Everything’s been falling into place.”

He estimated the cost of revamping the old school to be around $50,000. Not having to send high-needs students to private programs will save the district $250,000 to $260,000 per year, or even more if the program eventually takes students from other districts, Green said.

The idea of creating the school came from John Merrifield, director of student services.

“The most positive feedback we’ve received is the fact that we’re not going to have students traveling over an hour to places,” Green said. “We’ll be able to provide more services than what some are receiving now.”

The day treatment program will open with 13 special needs students who require nearly one-on-one staffing, Morin said. It will be staffed by three teachers, seven behavioral health education technicians and other support staff.

Emotionally disturbed students need help with coping skills, Green said.

“Once that happens, academics can take place,” she said. The plan is to start slow, “train the staff and get good.” After that, more students may be brought in.

The alternative program will help mostly 11th- and 12th-graders. The traditional high school “is not working for them,” Morin said.

“They’ll get a personal learning plan fit more to their needs,” she said.

The alternative program will open with 22 students taught by one teacher and two ed techs.

The Gartley Street building will continue to offer adult education classes in the evenings and to house school administrative offices.

While moving around piles of stuff Monday, Morin showed off classrooms for elementary, middle and high school students. The rooms have nice space and  light.

There’s an overflow room allowing an incentive program for students for good behavior, and space if students need a quiet area.

The school also has a 10- by 10-foot room with padded floors and walls for students who are out of control and need to calm down.

This year, the old kitchen won’t be used; lunches will be brought in. Next year, lunches will be made in the kitchen.

There’s a “super nice” small gym that will provide physical education for all students, Morin said. Basketball, floor hockey and other games will help emotionally disturbed students burn off energy. Lisbon High School wrestlers will also continue to use the gym for practice, Morin said.

The building has room for physical and occupational therapy, a school psychologist and social worker. Attractive pictures already hang in the teachers’ lounge.

With the building, “the possibilities (for programs) are endless,” Morin said. The school can offer students active programs incorporated into math, science and reading, such as a cooking program, field trips, skiing and swimming, Morin said.

“I’m a big fan of, if the student wants to learn it, then they’re going to behave and try to learn it,” she said.

She said the day treatment program will be transitional. Students will learn coping skills, allowing them to return to mainstream classes.

“Everybody who works here is promoting positive change in students,” she said. 


Gartley Street School

What: New Lisbon school open house (ribbon-cutting, refreshments and a chance to meet the staff).

When: 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Aug. 29

Where: Former Lisbon Elementary School


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.