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Horizon axes short stay program

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Taber Times

Horizon School Division is ending its short stay exchange program.

The news comes from a report by Clark Bosch, HSD associate superintendent of programs and services, during the HSD board of trustees regular meeting on May 20.

“We have talked to our Colombian short stay partners, and we have told them that we will no longer be taking short stays,” said Bosch. “It was a difficult conversation. We said it to them probably 15 times and they seemed not to get it.”

Additionally, Bosch said HSD would not be involved in any Alberta Education international student recruitment missions next year, and will instead

be reviewing the division’s place in the “increasingly populated world” of international student

recruitment.

The report indicated one reason for the decision is that it has become increasingly difficult to find home stay families.

“If part of our problem in recruiting kids is the fact we are who we are – a small, rural division, maybe it’s not best to travel in those settings,” Bosch said. He noted they were competing with large urban centres such as Edmonton and Calgary, which simply had more to offer in regards to amenities and opportunities.

“I’m pleased to see we’re not hosting any more short stays,” said Ward 5 trustee Terry Michaelis. “I’ve got a lot of complaints over that. It was more trouble than good.”

Tymensen said the division is still interested in hosting long-term stays because the students generally come to the area looking for an educational experience, rather than the cultural experiences sought by short-term stays.

“I think it was putting pressure on parents who were taking some short stays, thinking they had to take them to Banff, or West Edmonton Mall,” he said. “If you have a long term stay, they very much fit into your lifestyle.”

On May 3, families in the division welcomed the final short stay exchange group from Colombia, including 11 students and two chaperones. The students planned to stay in southern Alberta for about a month, and ranged in age from 11 to 15.

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