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Mohawk’s China connection finances take form

BUCKLAND — Mohawk Trail Regional School District officials estimate their efforts to bring tuition-paying Chinese students to Mohawk will result in a $94,000-per-year boost in net revenues to the district within five years.

That figure is based on Mohawk’s adding an additional full-time student each year, until five students per year come for full-time enrollment, and 25 Chinese students each summer come for a week-long program at the high school.

On Wednesday night, Mohawk committee members received spreadsheets detailing both the costs and projected revenues for an annual, week-long summer camp and for year-long students to come from China.

This school year, Mohawk has spent $12,359 for: the Fox Intercultural Consulting ($6,000); travel and lodging for Mohawk Principal Lynn Dole to travel to China and make connections with Chinese schools and communities ($5,124) and about $1,200 for a Mohawk Chinese Program brochure, to be distributed in China.

Next year’s costs are expected to rise to about $24,000, to include stipends for summer program teachers and program coordinators, summer room and board, and about $100 per-pupil costs for lunches and transportation.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Buoniconti said school officials are planning for 25 Chinese students for the summer program, for a $3,750 tuition (about $150 per student per day). For students enrolled for the school year, tuition would be about $30,000 per year, including room and board. Buoniconti said he hopes the school will host one Chinese student for the school year that begins next fall, and add an additional student each year, until there are about five students from China attending Mohawk.

“We would not be adding teaching resources,” Buoniconti said, “just using more of our capacity, as we now do for School Choice students.”

“Next month, I’m hoping to get your authorization to start preparing for the summer program,” he said.

When asked if the summer program students will want to enroll for the fall semester, Mohawk Principal Lynn Dole said the experience in other schools is that students who come for the summer program usually apply to enroll for a full school year a year later.

According to information given to the school board, Leland & Gray Union Middle/High School in Townsend, Vt., charges $30,000 in tuition to Chinese students, which includes room and board. At the Academy at Charlemont, the tuition for international students is $38,500, including room and board.

Last month, the School Committee asked for more detailed cost figures, after hearing about Dole’s one-week trip to China. Dole came back with two Chinese “sister” schools that are interested in partnership with Mohawk. A Chinese government official is scheduled to come to Mohawk this spring, to visit the school before he approves sending any schoolchildren to Mohawk for the year.

Besides the additional revenue that the tuition would bring, educators hope the new connections made with China will broaden local students’ awareness. For instance, children at the Mohawk and Chinese sister schools might have Internet-based classroom conversations. Also, the School Committee has already given approval for a field trip to China by Mohawk students in April 2015. The early approval was given to allow time for planning and fundraising for the trip.

Many Chinese families are interested in sending their children to American schools to improve their chances of getting admitted to colleges outside of China.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: broncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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