Lisbon School Turns To Foreign Students To Stay Alive

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Less and less state aid and rising expenses - Lisbon Central School's problems are no different from most.

But its solution may be as it considers trying to lure new students from overseas.

"The more students that we can bring in, especially tuition-paying students, the more available we are to offer elective courses to our high school students," said Superintendent Erin Woods.

The school is applying for an academic visa, and underwent a site review by U.S. Customs and Immigration in March. 

Chinese businessman James Ma, who's trying to set up a school near Ogdensburg, would likely provide the first few students to Lisbon.

"We'll probably pilot with a couple of Chinese students in the fall if we get our academic visa," said Woods.

If the program works the first year, it'll be expanded to include students from other countries as well.

"We're not going to limit it to just what Mr. Ma has to offer. We think we could generate interest from other countries and other students as well," said Blake Gendebien, school board vice president.

International students would bring more dollars and diversity to Lisbon.

"It's good for our teachers who will be challenged by some high-end students," said Gendebien.

The proposed foreign exchange program would require host families. 

That's part of the reason for a community meeting set for next week to form an international student committee.

Monday, December 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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