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District looking to expand international student-exchange program

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: Sep 24 2013 08:15:20 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 24 2013 09:22:39 PM CDT

JANESVILLE, Wis. -

A Rock County school district is looking to expand its international student-exchange program that may ultimately bring funding into the district.

District leaders are expected to talk about the legal issues associated with having international students and what the laws are for charging the tuition at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

Mrs. Wong’s Chinese class worked on pronunciation Tuesday, but by next fall they could be joined by as many as 20 Chinese students.

“We want to create that authentic experience with a classroom here being connected to classrooms there,” said Dr. Robert Smiley, chief information officer. “You’re not learning Chinese within the walls of our classrooms.”

Smiley and seven other district leaders will head to China next month to continue developing relationships with schools there. Their goal is to recruit students and fill open desks due to declining enrollment over the last decade in the district.

“Last year was the first year that we started to trend upward just a little bit. But declining enrollment means declining funds,” said Dr. Karen Schulte, Janesville School District superintendent.

The international students would help the district financially because the students would pay tuition to the district instead of paying a private company to come to the United States.

“Out tuition for the School District of Janesville is around $9,000, between $9,000 and $10,000. So if we’re charging upwards of $20,000-$30,000, you can see the possibility of generating some revenue,” said Schulte.

Board member Bill Sodemann said he supports the program because it will help graduates compete in a global economy. The district currently has 400 students enrolled in Chinese language courses.

“I think it’s a good program to pursue and so far, it seems very valid,” said Sodemann.

Schulte said the district’s international program isn’t just about China. They’re building relationships with schools in other countries, including Argentina and Mexico.

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