At the beginning of Thursday’s meeting of the Pearl River County School District’s Board of Trustees, a representative of ASSE, an organization that promotes international exchange students, asked the Board to consider increasing the number of students the district will accept.
Greg Johnson, a member of ASSE, asked the Board to increase the number of potential international exchange students from it’s current cap of two. Typically, school districts allow up to one percent of their total student population to be exchange students, meaning Pearl River County’s School District could allow up to nine exchange students. While he was not asking for nine exchange students to be admitted to the District, he did ask that the Board consider an increase.
He said that exchange students benefit not only the family who hosts them by sharing cultures, but that same sharing of cultures occurs between students and staff. For the most part, exchange students participate in sports programs, and volunteer to benefit the community.
At the end of the meeting, the Board asked Pearl River Central High School Principal Kimberly Alford said that for the past two years, the District did not accept any foreign exchange students due to the pandemic. With the District expected to reopen that program, Alford said the school has received a total of five requests, two of which are currently on a wait list.
Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education Dr. Stacy Baudoin agreed that the students and staff benefit from the sharing of cultures.
Baudoin did express concern about the availability of resources if too many slots were set aside for exchange students.
Alford added that one of the district’s requirements to accept an exchange student is that the students is proficient in speaking English. She added that the school could comfortably accommodate 10 exchange students.
At the end of the discussion, the Board member Jeff Jones made a motion to increase the cap for exchange students to seven. That motion was approved by the Board unanimously. Superintendent Alan Lumpkin added that even though a new cap has been set, the District will still conduct a vetting process when accepting exchange students.