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Rural Ohio Districts Entertain Proposal to Enroll Chinese Students

Four rural Ohio school districts are considering a plan that would bring as many as 200 Chinese students to their schools starting in 2014-15.

It would be a good move financially for the districts, which would be paid $10,000 in tuition per student annually by the Chinese students, and anyone hosting the families would receive up to $500 per month, according to a story in The Columbus Dispatch.

The tuition money would be significant to the districts, which generally are among the poorer ones in the state because they receive less from property taxes. And officials said it would provide other benefits for Ohio students, such as a chance to increase their cultural understanding of the world, according to the story.

The idea for this arrangement came out of a meeting between one of the local superintendents and a representative of the Weiming Education Group at a recent, unrelated professional conference (fair warning, the company's website is in Chinese). The privately held company owns some private schools in China and wants to develop partnerships with American school districts to accept their students, according to the story.

This reminds me of what Superintendent Skip Hults has done in Newcomb Central School District in Newcomb, N.Y. Hults was named one of EdWeek's Leaders to Learn From, which was a report that highlighted district-level leaders nationwide who were putting creative ideas into practice to improve their school systems.

Hults' small, one-school rural district has hosted about 60 students from more than 60 countries since it started recruiting and enrolling international students, and its enrollment has more than doubled to 105 students.

When we wrote about Hults, he said he was helping a dozen other Vermont and New York school districts replicate his district's program. It will be interesting to see how many other rural districts turn to international student recruitment as a way to boost enrollment and income, both of which will help them in the future.

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