Janesville School Board gets international program update

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

JANESVILLE—Five Chinese students will walk the halls of Janesville high schools this fall according to information presented to the school board Tuesday.

The number is admittedly lower than original estimates, Superintendent Karen Schulte said. But the figure will give the district time to solidify the structure and foundation of its international program so students receive the best possible experience, she said.

"The structure is sound," Schulte said. "As we go through this we learn things. We thought that there was no rush, so we wanted to make sure we had a strong program for the future.”

This fall, three Chinese students will attend Craig High School and two will attend the new Rock University High School housed at UW-Rock County.

The new students each will pay $24,000 for the experience. Of that, $14,000 will go towards tuition and $10,000 will pay for room and board. Host families can receive up to $500 per month from the district in stipends, Schulte said.

"I would be a big proponent of it being only five students," board President Greg Ardrey said. "I would hate for us to bring in students and not provide them the world class education we would seek for our local students here."

Schulte on Monday also gave board members financial information about the program during the finance, buildings and grounds committee meeting.

She said that in 18 months, the international program—called JIEP—has brought in $30,000 of revenue.

This summer's international institute also brought in $30,000 in revenue in addition to a boost to the local economy, she said.

"Economic development is little things that add up," board member Bill Sodemann said.

Whether it be a host family spending extra money on groceries or buying jeans from a department store, the added money trickles through the local economy, he said.

"The positive exposure our city gets from doing these things can't be measured, but it's there," Sodemann said.

Board member Kevin Murray raised issue with the program, questioning how its success can be measured.

"To me it's about outcomes and I've been watching all these trips to China, all the development, all the resources of time," he said.

Murray said it wasn't his intention to be negative about the program, but there are certain aspects of it he can't let go.

"I'd like to put this to rest, but I can't," Murray said. "Things all of a sudden motivate me to inquire further."

Board member David DiStefano told Murray that he was in agreement with him on many issues, but that his stance on the international program was not one of them.

"As far as how are we going to measure growth, I've seen the growth in my house with my daughter," DiStefano said.

DiStefano said he has seen a change in his daughter and her compassion and understanding for other cultures. It has spread throughout her school, Harrison Elementary, as well, he said.

"It (the international program) is going to be baby steps, I'd rather have the program start off having them making some adjustments than jumping right in," he said.

Board member Kristin Hesselbacher said she supports JIEP because it sets the district apart and shows it's is a leader.

"As almost everyone has said, global competencies are needed," Hesselbacher said. "They are the future. We aren't just competing with students from Beloit or students from across the state line. We're competing with students across the world."

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