Chinese education initiative moves forward

President of School District 91's business company recently announced that the company has up to $1.8 million in start up costs in place.

Ray LeMoigne, president of School District 91’s business company recently announced that the company has up to $1.8 million in start up costs in place.

LeMoigne made the announcement during a School District 91 board meeting and said the business company, which was formed in March 2011, can now officially seal the deal to sell B.C. curriculum based initiatives in China.

He said to Lakes District News that the start up funds were secured as financial loans from Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) and Community Futures of Nadina and provide the company with up to $1.8 million to cover initial costs.

LeMoigne said he hopes to keep the costs as low as possible, but he said it is good to have up to $1.8 million available to the company.

As reported in the Lakes District News edition of July 27, 2011, the business company had initially requested to borrow  the start up costs through municipal loans. NDIT has funds set aside for municipal lending and the business company was hoping that each municipality within the district would agree to borrowing up to $300,000 from their NDIT account. The idea was subsequently rejected by a number of municipalities, but was supported by the Village of Burns Lake.

With the start up funds now secured, LeMoigne said the business company will be delivering an English language learning program which will start in February 2012 in China. “We will also be offering advance placement courses in English. These are exciting times,” he said.

Earlier this year, LeMoigne travelled to China and met with executives from R & F Properties, a company that is building a 175,000 person housing development in the Beijing suburb of Xianghe. LeMoigne signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a B.C. school in the community, offering Grades 10, 11 and 12.

The company also signed contracts to create a B.C. school within an existing Xianghe high school called Xianghe Number One School. It is a co-educational public school that has approximately 4,000 students enrolled. LeMoigne estimates that 90 per cent of the students will enroll in English language learning classes.

He said the classes were originally slated to start in September 2012, but the principal of Xianghe Number One School is eager to start.

“As a result we will be starting a revenue stream eight months in advance of when we originally thought,” he said.

He said 100 per cent of the borrowed funds will come back in the form of tuition agreements from these schools, as well as from international student tuition.

Between 275 to 400 Chinese students are expected to study as international students in Northern B.C. high schools annually.

The loan will be used to cover the salary of a B.C. principal who is now based in China, as well as teachers and support staff salaries, travel costs, fees from Ministry of Education as well as inspectors, translators and legal cost and LeMoigne’s own salary.

“The funds will not be used for the facility or for furnishings,” he said, adding that the schools in China cover those costs.

British Columbia is one of seven provincial education ministries that accredit offshore schools.

For a fee, the schools are offered the right to teach Canadian curriculum and award Canadian diplomas.

British Columbia is currently the only province that allows school districts, through an arms length company such as the School District 91 business company, to operate as profit making intermediaries through Bill 34, legislation adopted to allow the creation of school district business companies.