July 6, 2020

Last March, Governor Burgum closed schools for in-person instruction due to concerns about COVID-19.  He directed schools to serve their students via distance learning “until further notice”.

The Governor amended his order on June 1st to allow schools to have summer school and to provide daycare as long as it was in groups of 15 or less. Under the guidance of the Governor, we did offer summer school in-person for remedial reading, special education, beginners’ music, school-based mental health services, and behind the wheel, which was also approved by Ransom County Public Health.  

We are in frequent contact with the ND Department of Public Instruction, Ransom County Public Health and the Governor’s Office trying to find out what schools will be allowed to do in August. 

  • At this time, we do not know if students will be allowed to return. 
  • If they are allowed to return, will class-size caps and social distancing guidelines be in place? 
  • If so, that may force us to limit the number of students who can attend school each day. 
  • Will schools still have the authority to offer distance-learning classes to our students who have been identified as high risk by a medical-professional?

It is our hope that the Guidelines we need to follow will be released by mid-July.  Once those guidelines are released, we will share the educational plan for this fall.  

We know how difficult this uncertainty is for many of you.  Rest assured that as soon as we have guidance from the state, we would communicate our plan.  If you have specific questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.


Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent of Schools 

May 22 Update

Today marks the last day of the 2019-2020 academic school year.  Thanks to all who have made this year possible.  We will hold graduation on Sunday starting at 2:00 pm at the Outdoor Sports Complex weather permits.  Mr. Adair will watch the weather very closely.  We have some chances of rain so he might need to call a “Rain Delay” much like a umpire during a baseball game.  Plans can also change due to public health concerns.  I know of one school district that had some graduates and families members test positive for COVID so they had to change their ceremony format just two days before graduation.  Please remember the graduation rules – people who are sick should not attend; members of vulnerable populations should not attend; masks are strongly encouraged; and please do not be selfish by violating the rules.  I will be announcing scholarship winners during the graduation ceremony with 25 seniors receiving $62,600 in locally generated scholarships.  Dollars for Scholars awarded  $35,000 while another $27,600 was awarded by others.  Nearly 39% of our graduates will receive ND Academic and CTE Scholarships worth $750 per semester for four years as long as they are a full time student and hold a 2.75 GPA.  Winners of the CTE were – Kasen Anderson, Jacie Baarson, Colton Bergemann, Brady Carlson, Kaylee Dickerman, Logan Fellows, Chynna Langhoff, Ethan Lyons, Caleb Nielsen, Brooklyn Person, Jacob Reinke, Mandy Saxerud, and Keaten Shelton.  Winners of the Academic Scholarships were – Jacob Bear, Isac Bentten, Peyton McNea, and Cassidy Rostock.  We also had 14 graduating seniors receive University and College Scholarships from ten different institutions of Higher Education.  Congratulations to the Class of 2020!!!!   This week included planning for summer school.  We started ordering PPE materials so that we can meet the guidelines as set forth for re-entry.  Most of those guidelines are changing week by week as we learn more about the pandemic.  My Wednesday ended late in the day with my email being compromised.  I worked with the state IT personnel to get things straighten out but by Thursday morning the problems go worse making for a long day.  The hackers are getting better at what they do as they did use my signature, picture, and my correct email address.  However, they made some mistakes like our school phone number and other small mistakes.  It took us a while to find what they did but once we found it we were able to get my email back on track.  We have offered contracts for elementary special education and elementary music.  We believe the candidates will fit in nicely with the Lisbon Public Schools.  Once I received signed contracts, I will make those individuals names public. 

Last week, I reported on the asbestos insulation that was found wrapped around the steam line pipes encased in cement in the elementary.  Wednesday, we were able to get an abatement company to our campus to start the removal process.  The removal and the air monitoring during the abatement should take another three days.  Mark Qual and Lori Lyons were able to sign the closing papers on the Bond sale on Wednesday.  We will have closing papers on the bond sale completed on Thursday May 28, 2020.  I really hated to end my 43rd year of education like this.  I did not get a chance to say proper goodbyes to staff who are leaving us and brag up the seniors during our Annual Awards Night!  I will miss you all.  My hope will be to see you all back her in August.  Thanks for everyone’s support and hard work over the past ten weeks.  Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day weekend.  SLJ         

May 15 Update

Good Afternoon:  We started this week with a state-wide superintendents meeting  and Ransom County Public Health meeting both in the morning.  We did receive word that the department of public instruction was going to release a guideline for school re-entry. 

School board meeting for Fort Ransom was held on Monday night via Zoom.  School board meeting for Lisbon was held on Tuesday night via Zoom.  Those Zoom recording have been posted.  We also received guidelines for re-entry. (attached)  We have been busy reviewing those guidelines.  I have a meeting on Monday May 18 for which more clarity is supposed to be coming to help us better understand those guidelines.  If you read the sceniaros on page 8 you may have figured out that we are not even supposed to be closed at this time. 

On Wednesday, I had our grant awarding meeting for the Lisbon Community Endowment.  The announcement of grant winners will be out later as letters with checks are coming in the mail.  Wednesday afternoon I had a South Valley school board meeting via Zoom.  We also had a construction meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  Things were going pretty well on the construction until we found that all of our steam line pipe going into our classrooms and other areas was wrapped with asbestos insulation.  Because it was contained it causes no risk until you try to remove it, which must be done as we are changing our heating system from steam to hot water.  Therefore, we will need to get an abatement company down to remove the asbestos and the pipe according to the EPA guidelines.  This delay will only affect the elementary school and the mechanical contractor.  While we are abating the elementary pipes, we will have the mechanical contractor concentrate on the sprinkler system in the middle school. 

During our $3 million dollar bond sale on Monday we were very happy as our bonds sold for 1.95% with a premium payment of over $93,000.  That is lower than the state interest rate on voter passed bonds.  The closing on the bond sale will be on Thursday May 28. 

On Thursday, we received word that Mrs. Emma Waloch and her 4th graders were recognized by the Rural Schools Collaborative for their work with Parkside Nursing home.   We are so proud of Emma and her students. 

Image of all 2020 seniorsThe calendar year is coming to a close and next Friday will be the last day of our 2019-2020 school year.  We have a lot of things to finish before we say goodbye to the year.  For Seniors of the Class of 2020, this week will be very special for them and their families.  Although we have new rules we must pay by including social distancing, we know that the school, parents, staff and community will make graduation one to remember.  I know I am going all out for this year’s Senior Class.  Let’s hope for some great weather.  When new information becomes available, I will forward it to you. 

Thanks for everyone’s support and hard work over the past nine weeks. 

Have a wonderful and safe weekend.  SLJ 



May 8, 2020 Update

Good Afternoon:  We started this week with a state-wide superintendents meeting, Ransom County Public Health and a meeting with music instructors to discuss summer band. 

On Tuesday, I was able to sit in on Mr. Adair’s Zoom meeting with the Class of 2020 as he reviewed graduation options, answered questions, and received suggestions from our seniors.  I am confident that Mr. Adair and the Seniors will put on a great graduation within the guidance and rules we have been given to follow.  On Wednesday, the Department of Public Instruction and the Governor’s office came out with graduation guidance. 

Our property is still off limits for students and non-essential personnel except for graduation ceremony.  Guidelines are attached.  We are expecting re-entry guidelines to come out soon so that we can do more planning for summer school and the start of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Photo of Group of Volunteers of the Year Winners

On Wednesday night, I was able to celebrate with the 4th graders in Mrs. Waloch’s class as they were chosen as the 2020 Volunteer Group of the Year by the Long-term Care Organization.  They were supposed to be at a banquet in Bismarck but because of the pandemic they celebrated on Zoom!  Congratulations Parkside Buddies! 

Today we had our first meeting of the Department of Public Instruction’s pk12 Alliance Team.  I was chosen to represent the Lisbon Public Schools on this team whose mission will be to create and provide unified messaging and support for family educators and students during this unprecedented time.  The team consists of 25 members from across the state including students.  Many of the team members are part of the family engagement team. 

Construction was delayed because of the rain earlier this week.  They did get the walls poured and plans are to get the floors formed up and cemented next year.  It appears that we are three-weeks ahead of schedule. 

Photo of construction work being done on Middle school

Next week, we have a school board meeting via Zoom for Fort Ransom on Monday night and on Tuesday night Lisbon.  Everybody should have received the meeting ID and 

Password.  I also have a South Valley Special Education board meeting on Wednesday, May 13.  According to our approved distance-learning plan our last day of school will be May 22, 2020.  I want to be as transparent as possible while giving you honest and Photo of Alexis

truthful information to the best of my ability.  I am on three state-wide administrative committees, which help me stay informed.  When new information becomes available, I will forward it to you.

Thanks for everyone’s support and hard work over the past eight weeks.  Have a wonderful and safe weekend.  If you have time check out the Drive-In Movie night and curbside popcorn from the Scenic Theater. 

Dr. Steven L. Johnson


April 23, 2020

To the families of Lisbon Elementary School:

I hope this letter finds you healthy, safe, and Lisbon Strong.  What a crazy spring this has been!  This situation is completely unprecedented and I appreciate your patience, understanding, and flexibility as we all navigate this time in your student’s education together.  Unfortunately, there are still many unanswered questions in regards to the final month of school.  We, as a staff, would love nothing more than to get back into school and complete our school year; however, at this point, we are still unsure of what the future holds.  The situation will continue to be monitored and we will take the measures that we need to take in order to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the CDC and the ND Department of Health.

I am so pleased to hear the many positive reports from teachers in regards to the effort being put forth by students and parents alike.  I understand that this is a challenging adventure and I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am for the time and effort that you have put into your student’s continued education.

In order to be proactive, we would like to get the next round of materials out to the students, in the chance that we are unable to return to school this spring.  We will also be including any student personal items that remain at school.  We have two scheduled pick-up days for these materials.  Please take note of your scheduled date and review the instructions for pick-up listed below in order to make this a smooth process for all involved.  Staff members will be wearing masks and encourage you to do the same.  This will be a drive-thru pick-up, please remain in your vehicle.  Pick-up time will be from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm on these dates:

  • Your student’s last name will determine the corresponding pick-up date:
    • Tues, April 28th– Students whose last name begins with A-K
    • Wed., April 29th– Students whose last name begins with L-Z
  • Student material pick-up will be in the Main Gymnasium/Armory parking lot located on Prospect St. Please enter from the SE driveway and exit through the NE driveway.
  • Teachers will be set up by grade level, starting with Kindergarten. Proceed to the necessary grade level.  We ask that you respect social distancing guidelines by remaining in your vehicle.  A teacher will bring your items to the car.  If your student is in the car as well, make sure to let the teacher know.  These teachers miss their students and would love to see their smiling faces!  J

Usually at this time, we are just wrapping up our Kids Heart Challenge campaign for the American Heart Association.  We had just had our kick-off ceremony a couple of days before we closed school in order to comply with the order set forth by Governor Burgum.  I know many students had already raised funds and have continued to raise funds in support of the American Heart Association.  We would like to collect those donations and submit them in honor of your fundraising efforts.  Please bring your student’s envelope, with the collected donations enclosed, with you on the day of your student material pick-up.  Please enclose a check made out to the American Heart Association in exchange for any cash donations they may have received.

Please understand that we do not see these two days as a finality to our school year.  We are only trying to be as prepared as we can be in this uncertain time.  Teachers will still be teaching throughout the month of May, as we are not done learning yet.  We want our students to still receive the quality education that you have come to expect from Lisbon Public Schools, even if it is delivered in an alternative format.

Thank you for taking the time to retrieve your student’s materials.  I ask that you respect the schedule and the guidelines set forth in order to proceed in an organized, efficient, and effective manner.  If you have any questions, please contact your classroom teacher or call the school at 701-683-4107.


Mr. Benjamin Zahrbock
Lisbon Elementary School Principal



“No Tech Day” Monday, April 13, 2020


Monday, April 13, 2020, has been declared No Tech Day by Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent of the Fort Ransom and Lisbon Public Schools. Teachers in Fort Ransom and Lisbon will not be available for contact with their students or parents on that day. We encourage teachers, students and families to take the day off from technology including cell phones, television, iPad, computers, etc. and stay off social media for at least TWO HOURS.

Suggestions –
 Write two letters to a loved one you have not been able to see since the COVID-19 School closure began.
 Do two additional chores around your house or farm to assist your parents.
 Spend two hour outside, not in groups, enjoying the weather.
 Create a hands-on project using materials found in your home. (Ex. Build a rocket out of Legos, art project, sewing project, paint, draw, build a fort, design a medical facemask, possibilities are unlimited)
 Go for a walk, ride your bike, rollerblade, etc…. for two hours
 Help make or make a family meal for all to enjoy with all family members sitting at the table together.
 Be creative!

I would like thank our staff, students and community while we flipped our delivery of educational services to Distance-Learning in one short week for all your work and understanding. You all deserve a break. We live in a wonderful community. Enjoy!


Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent 


March 27, 2020

Good Afternoon:

I am writing this while listening to Governor Doug Burgum’s daily press conference on COVID-19.  It has been a busy week for all of us.  I feel confident that we have staff and a community  who are all working hard to deal with this fluid situation.

Access to our buildings are now limited to essential personnel only.  If you have not been told that you are an essential employee your key fab will no longer work.  If you need to get into any building you will need to call the building principal to get access.  We are also screening everyone who comes into our buildings with questions about travel, wellness, contact with others and whether they have had a fever over the last couple of weeks.  By Governor order, students are not allowed in our buildings or to gather in groups on our campus including playgrounds, track and other outdoor areas.

Both Fort Ransom and Lisbon’s District Distance-Learning plans have been submitted to the Department of Public Instruction.  I know that they have been assigned to a committee for review as the process includes approval by DPI committee, Superintendent of Public Instruction and then off to the Governor’s office for final approval.  We must have the Governor’s approval before we will receive our April 1 state foundation payment and transportation funding.  I have daily meetings with state-wide superintendent group who gather information to distribute to our region schools.

We will have the Ransom County Health and Emergency Operation Center COVID-19 on Monday morning at 10:00 am.  This will be a follow-up of our meeting on March 16.  I attached our local meeting from that meeting.  I have by-weekly meeting of the Joint K-12 Sub Committee Command Team headed by the Department of Public Instruction.  This is a very small group and I represent small rural schools as an active superintendent.

Please take the weekend to enjoy your family and the great outdoors while practicing social distancing.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent
[email protected]


March 25, 2020

Attached on the right is Governor Doug Burgum’s Executive Order 2020-10 for your review.  Please note the sixth paragraph beginning with NOW THEREFORE.  All school facilities will remain closed to students until further notice with only teaches and other essential staff having access to school facilities.  We will put more clarity to “essential” and having “access” by Friday.  You can expect no more than 10 staff members (total) having access to unlocking our doors for the Lisbon School Public Schools.  We have also named law enforcement and fire department as essential as they too will have access in case of an emergency.  Other staff members without access will need to call their building principals to gain entrance.

Secondly, we are working hard on developing our plans to submit to the Superintendent of Public Instruction.  We received our first draft last night.  Most of the work was already done after all the hard work staff did last week.  We would like open communications continue as we would like to send out the second draft this evening and hopefully submit by Thursday.  Continue to practice social distancing and other ways to stop the spread of coronavirus.  Have a great day.  I will be sending out another update later today.

Lisbon Public Schools recommends all district employees practice social distancing during the COVD-19 pandemic. Social distancing implies taking action to slow, or stop, the spread of a contagious disease. The district is currently implementing the following action steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while school is not in session: school buildings and recreational facilities are closed to the public; the District Office located in the High School is open by appointment only; meetings are being cancelled, or conducted over the phone/online; only essential staff are asked to report to work; staff are asked to stay home when not feeling well; and facilities are receiving thorough, and on-going, disinfecting.

Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent
[email protected]



Fort Ransom Elementary and Lisbon Public Schools
COVID-19 Public Announcement
March 18, 2020

Since learning of the closure order Sunday evening, by Governor Burgum, the Fort Ransom and Lisbon staff have been working diligently on plans to continue to provide our students with a proper education during the school closure due to the covid-19 virus concerns. As we progress through this unprecedented situation, we will do our best to keep the community informed. The safety of our students, staff and our community is our top priority. Fort Ransom Elementary School and Lisbon Public Schools have made the decision to cancel traditional school for the week of March 23-27. Our buildings will be locked and only essential personnel will be allowed to be in our buildings. If you have questions on essential personnel, please contact your building principal, as we will be practicing the group size guidelines of the CDC. We also want everybody to understand that those guidelines could quickly change if we have a community member test positive for the COVID-19.

Much of what we are doing is under an emergency order by Governor Burgum so changes could be made at any time. We are in daily contact with state agencies including the Department of Public Instruction, North Dakota Department of Public Health and the Governor’s office. Information from those state agencies is changing by the hour. Currently, the Governor has announced that all schools are to be closed the week of March 16-20. With that said, our entire staff has been at the school the past three days preparing for the worst-case scenario of school closing for an extended period. On Tuesday, March 17, our staff met with Ransom County Public Health who provided the latest information on covid-19. Thanks to Chelsey Jones and Brenna Welton for their presentation and work. Again, this information is constantly changing.

We have organized our staff into small groups working on the following areas:

  • Child nutrition has been working with Ransom County Food Pantry, Ransom County Social Services and ND Child nutrition in ways we can provide those services to our communities as allowed by law.
  • Special Education planning on providing services to students during an extended shutdown
  • Fort Ransom elementary, Lisbon elementary, Lisbon middle school and Lisbon high school staff are planning, organizing, and preparation of lessons, and the distribution of such, during an extended shut down with special attention to accessibility for all our families.
  • Custodial efforts to keep our school clean and sanitized
  • Transportation has be meeting to determine how best serve our community during an extended shutdown.

Our goal is to have all plans in place, and implemented, no later than Monday, March 23, with our adjusted educational delivery system. If the Governor beyond next week extends the school closure, we will work like crazy to plan accordingly and get the information out to the public. Presently, we will have reopening procedures in place for our staff and students for returning to normal school life on Monday, March 30, 2020.

Please be assured that our adjusted educational delivery system does meet state standards, graduation standards and grading standards. If we receive changes in North Dakota State Assessments or other accountability measures, we will share those with
the public.

The work the staff has done over the past three days has been amazing. The task the Governor assigned them would have normally taken a full year or more. Fort Ransom and Lisbon have a very professional staff with great problem solving skills. I am very proud to be a part of this community.

Dr. Steven L. Johnson, Superintendent