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New program would bring international students to Ann Arbor schools

Hallway in Huron High School in Ann Arbor.
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A new tuition-based program would mean an increase in Chinese students at Ann Arbor's high schools, as well as more money for the district.

The school board is weighing a proposed partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools and Troy-based BCC International Education Group, Inc. The Chinese-American company has created similar programs in Saline and Dexter.

Students from China would pay $10,000 per year in tuition to attend one of Ann Arbor's three public high schools – Huron, Skyline or Pioneer – for 11th and 12th grades.

"Our goal for our students is to develop those international and cross-cultural competencies that are so critical to being successful in a college environment and in a work environment," said Ann Arbor Public Schools' superintendent Jeanice Swift.

The Ann Arbor district already has about a dozen partners in international education, according to Swift. Students from around the world attend the district's schools through various exchange programs.

If approved, the new program would launch in September. Swift says she anticipates starting with approximately 15 students at each school.

"This partnership may start small, but it will be great opportunity to expand the already rich offerings that our students have in the Ann Arbor Public Schools," she says.

Swift believes both American and Chinese students benefit from such agreements, and that there is "not a better way to develop linguistic competencies than through actually interacting with native speakers." She also says the city of Ann Arbor is ideal for international student programs.

"There is a huge respect for diversity of culture, and of perspectives; for developing competency in world languages. This is who we are," she said.

The school board will vote on the proposal at its March 9 meeting.

"This is not new, it's not different from what we're already doing," Swift said.  "So, we feel very confident that we'll move forward."

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