TRAVERSE CITY — Officials from a Beijing-based education group are scheduled to arrive in town today to sign a student exchange agreement with Traverse City Area Public Schools.
TCAPS Superintendent Stephen Cousins and Hao Lin, chairman, founder and president of the Weiming Education Group, are supposed to sign off on tentative plans for a longterm student exchange program during a ceremony at the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce today.
TCAPS Board of Education President Kelly Hall, Traverse City Mayor Michael Estes, Northwestern Michigan College President Tim Nelson and chamber Executive Director Doug Luciani will speak during the event.
Hall said speakers represent Traverse City’s educational institutions, businesses and city government.
“The fact that we have such a breadth of community members attending ... demonstrates this is good for the entire region, not just the students of TCAPS,” Hall said. “This is bringing part of the world to Traverse City and northern Michigan in a way that we haven’t had.”
The agreement, approved last month by TCAPS’ school board, allows for up to 200 Chinese students to enroll in TCAPS annually for years to come, though district officials expect the program will start small and grow to larger numbers.
Weiming will pay TCAPS about $10,000 in tuition for each student, and the district can collect extra state school aid dollars for Chinese students enrolled as juniors.
Estes said he “applauds” TCAPS officials for crafting a partnership with education organizations in China.
“Here we are extending this message to one of the super powers, saying ‘you’re welcome to come here and interact with us,’” Estes said. “I think that has huge implications.”
Nine officials from Weiming are expected to attend the event at the chamber, said Jayne Mohr, an associate superintendent at TCAPS. Weiming officials also plan to visit other school districts and colleges in Michigan where they are forming partnerships, Mohr said.
Weiming officials could not be reached for comment.
The agreement scheduled to be signed today is non-binding. The two parties still need to develop a formal contract, Mohr said.