School District 72 staff have been all over the world – but it’s no vacation. They’re working to recruit students.
District employees have been attending a number of overseas fairs, along with other school districts, for the past three years to meet with agents and parents who are interested in sending their children abroad.
“It’s by no means a holiday,” says Tom Longridge, superintendent of instruction. “The trips involve very intensive, 12-hour days where you’re bouncing from city to city.”
Longridge says staff spend the majority of its time at the recruitment fair, where they man a booth and walk around with pamphlets promoting Campbell River. Sometimes the district’s presentation also involves a Power Point slide show.
Longridge credits the program as a success, increasing the student population in light of declining enrolment and bringing in much needed revenue for a school district on a stretched budget.
“We’ve been very cautious about the program and made sure the costs don’t exceed what we’re bringing in,” says Longridge. “We haven’t incurred any cost to the budget with the program – we more than broke even this year.”
This year, the school district has spent $29,719 attending recruitment fairs with another roughly $18,000 to be spent on upcoming recruitment trips but Longridge says the 22 international students who attended schools in Campbell River generated $184,000 for the school district through international student fees. The cost for one overseas student to attend a local school is $11,500 per year but that will increase to $12,000 a year in the 20011/12 school year.
In 2008, the first year of the program, the district had four overseas students attend school in Campbell River and in 2009, that increased to 21 students.
Longridge points out that not all students stayed an entire school year, many only committed to two or three-month terms. He noted this year, though, students are staying for longer periods of time.
School district staff have travelled to China, Hong Kong, Germany, Korea and Taiwan looking for students but the majority of international students coming to Campbell River have been from Korea.
The district has a strong relationship with Sokcho in Korea.
“They send about 10 kids a year for two months so that the students can visit and experience a Canadian education,” says Longridge.
Having international students in local schools has many benefits. It encourages a multicultural environment within the district and it provides economic benefits to the community.
Longridge says a study by the International Public Education School System says one student brings in $32,000 into the community they attend through costs of living.
International students live in homestays while attending school in Campbell River.