June 01, 2016 - 10:53 AM
KAMLOOPS - The local school district has some concerns about a proposed high school at Thompson Rivers University.
Supt. Karl deBruijn says teaching positions could be lost and homestay placements could be more difficult for School District 73 to find when the Maple Leaf University School starts up.
“It’s a concern to us that if we lose international enrolment we could lose teaching positions,” he says.
The Maple Leaf school will start in September 2016 according to TRU spokesperson Baihua Chadwick, with 60 high school students expected to come from China for its first year.
The school district’s international program currently has 120 students, up from 80 a couple years ago, deBruijn says. Those students help the district to employ four to five teaching positions, he says. While he doesn’t know how many of the district's international students 120 are Chinese, deBruijn says the district recruits globally and doesn’t rely on single countries.
DeBruijn says the taxpayer doesn’t subsidize the program, with incoming students paying a tuition of roughly $11,000 plus room and board to their homestay family. With declining local enrolment, international students were seen as a way to increase the number of students in the system.
Initially the proposed high school, run by a subsidiary of for-profit Chinese company China Maple Leaf Educational Systems, will be located on the second floor of the university’s Old Main building, with plans to build a boarding school on university property in the future to house and educate 500 domestic and international students.
Students coming before the boarding school is built could cause another problem for the school district, deBruijn says, because plans are to place many of them in local homes. The school district also uses a homestay program for its students, and deBruijn is concerned there won’t be enough room for both international programs and incoming hockey players for the Blazers.
DeBruijn says the new school bringing competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing though.
“We have a high quality program that can compete with anybody,” he says. “It’s new, so with all newness comes a bit of wariness. We will rise to the occasion.”
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