Thank you for your recent letter regarding the International Student Services in Golden Hills. The board is pleased to respond and address your misunderstandings.
First, it is important to know that Alberta Education has a very comprehensive international education strategy so we encourage interested individuals to visit the Alberta Education website for more information about international education in Alberta. The International Education Services (ISS) program of Golden Hills aligns with Alberta Education’s strategy on international education. For advice and support in establishing ISS, the board is grateful to Dr. Lyle Oberg, former Minister of Education.
Further, please note the following:
- The quarterly financial report, reviewed at the April 13 board meeting shows a significant positive variance for international services: $1,259,703.35. The first quarterly deficit was due to a timing difference, since resolved, between reported revenue and expenses.
- Schools receive funding in the form of revenue transfers for international students and decide whether to purchase staff or use the funds in some other way to benefit students. The site based decision is influenced by many factors such as the number of students and placement within existing classes.
- International students are enrolled in several schools around our division. That is why it is impossible to divide the full time equivalent enrolment by a part time certificated teacher cost to arrive at a speculated shortfall.
- More resident than international pupils qualify for ESL services, yet the programming developed and supported by international education benefits all our ESL learners. International Student Services provides a part time teacher to support English as a Second Language programming.
- Recruitment costs are included in the expense statements. Many principals have travelled to recruit at education fairs, visit schools, and meet agents and parents. Travel provides a unique, valued professional development opportunity.
- A Director of ISS administers the program and reports to the division administration. Due to a resignation, ISS is currently supervised by division administration. The role of the superintendent is comprehensive and is not expensed by task.
- Board members have not participated in international travel for the ISS program. The superintendent, a member of Alberta Education’s International Advisory Council, was invited by the Chinese government to visit last spring. HANBAN (China’s approximate equivalent to our Ministry’s international services branch) paid the expenses.
- The primary purpose of the ISS program is the educational benefit to our students. Our students will work cross culturally with people from around the world as they enter the world of work and post secondary education. We prepare students to participate in the global village by providing opportunities in our classrooms. The division does not tout the program as “a major cash generator;” nevertheless, annual revenue for the division is approximately $3.5 million. Despite H1N1 and a significant downturn in the world’s economy, we continue to fund international services through resources generated by the program.
- International students also stabilize enrolment across the division. One effect is that small high schools with international students are able to offer high level courses in physics, chemistry and mathematics as a result of additional resources and sufficient enrolment interest to offer a class.
International students in Golden Hills are among our top athletes, scholars, volunteers, and leaders in student circles. They bring many extraordinary talents and skills. We are privileged to have so many young people from around the world contribute to our schools and enrich the lives of our students.
Golden Hills School Board