- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

MODOC, Ind. (AP) - The board of one of Indiana’s smallest school districts hopes a plan to recruit students from China will boost enrollment and keep the district running past next year.

Union School Corp. Superintendent Allan Hayne will travel to an educational forum in China this month to entice more students to the one-building district in southern Randolph County, 20 miles southwest of Muncie, The Star Press reports (http://tspne.ws/1OKwWYa ). The district already has a foreign exchange program, but school board president Christa Ellis said these students would pay tuition, as much as $30,000 a year.

“It would severely lower the deficit if we could take 10 students,” Ellis said. “I don’t see any negatives that wouldn’t be outweighed by the positive.”

Union has been losing students rapidly, ending last year with just 315 in the district. As of Sept. 18, the corporation had 251 students. A long-term concern continues to be that Union is spending more money than it is given by the state.

The board approved paying $2,500 for the superintendent’s trip to China, which will last from Oct. 10-18, during a special board meeting in September.

Ellis said the board isn’t looking past next year, yet.

“Right now we really can’t because we have to see what happens with enrollment,” she said.

The school board in January decided to ignore a report by a community advisory committee that it was time to close the school district. The report stated “our school is at, or even arguably past, the critical point enrollment wise, to effectively serve the educational needs of our students. This experience has further magnified the inadequacies of Union’s current offerings to students because of financial and enrollment shortfalls.”

The report said the committee felt it was doing the community and its students “a great disservice if we do not pursue consolidation.”

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Information from: The Star Press, http://www.thestarpress.com

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