Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 22, 2013

TCAPS board ready to approve Chinese students deal

TRAVERSE CITY — An international exchange potentially involving hundreds of students and millions of dollars for local schools appears a step closer to becoming a reality.

Traverse City Area Public Schools board members said they expect to approve a memorandum of understanding with Weiming Education Group, one of China’s largest private schools, during a meeting Monday night. The agreement could bring up to 200 Chinese students — and an infusion of up to $2 million tuition dollars and extra state school aid money — to TCAPS annually for years to come.

"I haven't heard any one voice of opposition (from board members)," board President Kelly Hall said. "I anticipate it will pass and be strongly supported."

TCAPS officials are lauding the proposed partnership with Weiming as part of district efforts to prepare students for an increasingly globalized world. The agreement also will generate more revenue for TCAPS, and allow the district to offer more classes and programming options to all students in the district, officials said.

The TCAPS-Weiming partnership, if approved, likely will begin with dozens of Chinese students enrolling as junior and seniors at TCAPS’ high schools in the 2014-15 school year, district officials said. Some seniors also could enroll at NMC.

Weiming will pay $10,000 annually in tuition per student to TCAPS under the proposal before the board. The district also can collect the state per-pupil foundation grant for the Chinese students during their junior year.

But two school districts in Kent County experienced bumps in the long road from China that suggests true student numbers -- and the associated revenue -- are not easily pinned down.

Rockford Public Schools and Kentwood Public Schools began to work on similar agreements with Weiming about 18 months ago, Rockford Superintendent Michael Shibler said.

Each district was prepared to receive 20 students from Weiming for the 2013-14 school year. Instead, far fewer showed up.

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