Maine Public School Plans to Moonlight as International Boarding School

Dr. Kenneth Smith at the Great Wall of China Photo Credit: Du Bin for The New York Times

Dr. Kenneth Smith at the Great Wall of China Photo Credit: Du Bin for The New York Times

It is no secret that schools across America have been brainstorming ways to increase enrollment and revenue.

At Stearns High School in Millinocket, Maine the need for students is so apparent, the county’s superintendent Dr. Kenneth Smith has committed to crossing oceans to solve the school’s enrollment problem.

According to the NY Times, Dr. Smith has developed a plan to embark to China, hire a consultant to provide Chinese connections, and lure students back to Millinocket to enroll at the high school for $27,000 a year to cover tuition, room and board.

“They want to learn English, and they want a college education. If we can get them into a college here, they will have achieved their major goal,” said Dr. Smith.

The students will live in a city that reportedly gets about 93 inches of snow annually, and doesn’t have a mall or movie theater. Not quite the “American experience” if you ask me. However, the school’s nutritionist Kathy Civiello told reporters she did plan on serving lo mein at the high school. Established in the 1960’s, Stearns’ maps still include the Soviet Union, so they clearly are not up to date with world geography and the school only offers one AP class.

Despite this, Dr. Smith still feels confident in his recruitment.

“Our performing arts program is one of the best anywhere. We have a tremendous music department and small classes with plenty of room. In China, you’re elbow to elbow,” he added.

And it seems teachers are supportive of his actions.

“I don’t want to sound flip, but why not? We won’t know until we get the opportunity to know them and give them the opportunity to know us. There’s something to be said for putting ourselves out there to see if we can be the prize that’s claimed,” said English teacher Terry Given.

What do you think? Should state funded public schools be allowed to moonlight as international boarding schools?








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