Janesville School Board to consider rules for foreign students

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Frank Schultz
Sunday, December 8, 2013

JANESVILLE—As Janesville high schools get ready to receive dozens of foreign students, the schools will need rules.

How many students will be allowed? What about participation in sports and other activities?

The competition to be valedictorian is not an issue, because the students will be coming as juniors and seniors and won't be able to accumulate enough rank points for that in two years, said Kim Ehrhardt, director of curriculum, at a school board committee meeting last month.

But a foreign student would be able to bump the first chair in the orchestra, get cast as a lead in the school musical or be a starter on a sports team, Superintendent Karen Schulte said at the same meeting.

The school board will consider approving a set of rules for foreign students when it meets Tuesday.

The rules cover the traditional foreign-exchange students, who arrive with J-1 visas issued by the State Department. They also cover students with F-1 visas, who are required to pay tuition.

The proposal would change a rule for foreign exchange students, who previously were limited to four per high school, although the board often allowed more.

The proposal would require the director of administrative and human services determine the number of foreign-exchange students.

The school board has not yet set tuition, but it is scheduled to discuss the matter in closed session Tuesday.

While all the F-1 students would pay their own tuition, Schulte said last month that at some point, the district hopes to arrange for scholarships for foreign students who can't afford it.

The proposal, revised from an earlier version, would limit the number of tuition-paying students to 1.5 percent of the district's enrollment, or about 150.

An earlier suggestion was 10 percent of the high school population, or more than 300.

More rules from the proposal:

— Foreign students would not be eligible for scholarships awarded through the district.

— Students would be required to understand enough English to allow them to function at school. District officials would make that determination, with the help of tests.

— Priority for placement would be given to organizations that have established strategic alliances with the district and organizations “with a long-standing commitment for placing students in their country.”

— “No F-1 student may be admitted unless and until an adult resident of the district with parental authority over the student has been established to the satisfaction of the district. The adult supervisor must be financially and otherwise responsible.”

The rules do not directly address living arrangements, but Schulte has said students could live with host families or in dormitories. The district has discussed dormitory arrangements with UW-Rock County and with a Chinese businessman who has said he will create a dormitory in a wing of a hotel in South Beloit, Ill.

— Foreign students would not enjoy privileges that are not accorded to other district students.

— A regular diploma would be issued if the student completes the requirements. If not, the student could be given an “honorary diploma.”

— The district could arrange with schools in the home countries for the students to receive diplomas both from Janesville and from a home-country school.

— Students from other Wisconsin school districts applying to attend Janesville high schools through the open-enrollment program would have priority over the foreign students.

One Chinese student is said to be getting ready to join the district in January. More could join her next fall.

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