MILLINOCKET, Maine — Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Smith will brief town leaders twice this week on the success of his trip to China in search of students to attend town schools starting in September, officials said.
Smith’s special presentation to the council will follow the swearing-in of new councilors and the nomination or re-election of a new council chairman, Town Clerk Roxanne Johnson said Sunday. The meeting will start at the Millinocket town hall at 7 tonight.
Smith then will brief the Millinocket School Committee at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Stearns High School, said committee Chairman Thomas Malcolm.
“He had a great trip,” Malcolm said Saturday. “He found it very informative and made some good connections. Everything seemed to be very positive. Everything seems to be moving a lot quicker than I thought we would.”
Smith and three private-school administrators traveled to China on Oct. 22 with plans to visit Beijing, Shanghai and several smaller cities in an effort to recruit hundreds of high school-age students to attend their schools next year.
His plan calls for enrolling as many as 200 tuition-paying students by September 2011 and housing them locally, possibly in dormitories that have yet to be built. Malcolm said it’s likely that initial efforts to recruit students would attract 25 to 35 students next year, who probably would stay with host families.
With typical foreign tuition running from $30,000 to $44,000 per student, the international enrollment could pay its own expenses, significantly boost the schools’ shrinking enrollment, greatly vary the Katahdin region’s culture and provide a potent revenue stream to a school system that needs it, Smith has said.
Smith appears to be the first public school administrator in Maine, if not the United States, to attempt to recruit large numbers of foreign students to repopulate and economically revitalize a public school.
Mel MacKay, head of school at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor, Michael McQuarrie of Erskine Academy in South China and a New Hampshire private school recruiter were supposed to accompany him on the trip.
Smith did not return telephone messages and e-mails sent on Friday and Saturday.