Niagara Gazette


April 13, 2013

In midst of budget crunch, Lew-Port looks to foreign exchange program for help


Niagara Gazette — "We've established this program here at Lew-Port and we see it as important to the overall makeup of this school," Casseri said. "This avenue could be huge for us, considering our declining enrollment and budgetary issues. Plus, this program promotes diversity. It'll be great for the Lew-Port community. I'm super excited about it. I'm excited about actively recruiting kids to come here."

The only hiccup in Casseri's plan appears to be a time limit on public entities like Lewiston-Porter keeping students enrolled. Under current guidelines, F visa students are only allowed to remain enrolled for one year, not the four-year figure private schools can provide families.

But a fix, Casseri said, may soon be going through the halls of congress, though nothing is certain yet.

If the district can find enough students to come overseas, it could eventually help fund the district's reverse program, which sends students to those countries for their own learning experiences. It's a program Superintendent Christopher Roser has recently proposed eliminating funding for as the district attempts to patchwork a 2013-14 budget together without needing to override the 4 percent tax levy threshold mandated by New York State's property tax cap.

So, if Roser's proposals are adopted by voters May 21, incoming students could help buoy the operating fund, but Lewiston and Porter residents couldn't send their children overseas through the district.

It's all about the changes, Roser said.

"It's going to be a little different," he said. "We are still a Confucius Institute school. There are a number of things that take place because of that designation. But opportunities for students to go to other countries, right now, that won't be taking place."

The Confucius Institute, organized through the University at Buffalo and the Chinese department Hanban, generates programs and opportunities for students to learn about Chinese culture. Lewiston-Porter currently has Wang Ying teaching language classes throughout the district's four schools and has hosted summer camps last year.

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