Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 10, 2013

TCAPS mulls exchange proposal

BY MICHAEL WALTON mwalton@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A win-win at every level.

That’s how Traverse City Area Public Schools Board of Education member Gary Appel described a proposed student exchange partnership with a Beijing-based private school that could bring up to 200 Chinese students — and an infusion of up to $2 million tuition dollars and additional state school aid money — to TCAPS.

“It’s a win for our students, it’s a win for the Chinese students, it’s a win for our community and it’s a win for the bottom line,” Appel said. “It works on every level.”

Appel’s comments came as TCAPS board members discussed entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Weiming Education Group, one of China’s largest private schools, during a board meeting Monday night.

The memorandum outlined a proposed exchange program that would start with dozens of Chinese students enrolling as junior and seniors at TCAPS’ high schools in the 2014-2015 school year. The program could grow from there to as many as 200 Chinese students taking classes at TCAPS and Northwestern Michigan College annually for years to come.

The proposal coincides with a district goal of increasing students’ global competency and could provide other benefits to local students.

Now the district’s high schools often struggle to fill college classes offered through NMC, TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins said.

The influx of Chinese students could bump up dual-enrollment numbers and allow TCAPS to offer more college courses each semester.

“That’s a huge added value to our students,” Cousins said.

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

Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber supports programs that promote ethnic and cultural diversity in the Grand Traverse region and its school districts. The Weiming exchange proposal providing TCAPS with a financial boost is just an added incentive.

“We’re big fans of this program,” Luciani said.

Board members are scheduled to vote on the memorandum during a Sept. 23 board meeting.