Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 8, 2013

TCAPS ponders China exchange program

TRAVERSE CITY — Board members for Traverse City Area Public Schools will consider a partnership with one of China’s largest private schools in a student exchange program that could draw up to 200 Chinese high school students to the district.

The board will discuss entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Weiming Education Group when members meet Monday at 6 p.m. at the Boardman administration building.

The proposed exchange program would start with the 2014-2015 school year with 30 Chinese students — high school juniors — who would live with host families.

Superintendent Steve Cousins said that number could increase over time to 50 juniors and 50 seniors at each of the district’s two high schools, based on available capacity.

“It fits in with our strategic plan to increase global competency and it will be a revenue-builder for TCAPS,” said Kelly Hall, school board president.

The students will pay $10,000 annually in tuition to TCAPS, and the district can collect the state per-pupil foundation grant for the Chinese students during their junior year. No foundation grant is available for the students’ senior years under their visa because they also would have to be dual-enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College.

Cousins said the tuition will cover any of TCAPS extra costs, plus generate a small profit.

Hall said her only concerns are logistical, such as finding enough host families. But once the program is established the Weiming Group proposes to build a residence hall for its students.

The program would create jobs and be an economic boost to the community, Hall said.

Weiming also will offer exchange opportunities for TCAPS students and teachers.

The memorandum of understanding is scheduled to come back to the board for a final decision on Sept. 23.

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