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Lumenus Withdraws Proposal

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A proposal to enroll up to thirty Chinese students as seniors this fall at Valparaiso High School has been withdrawn. According to a statement issued Monday by Lumenus USA President Erik Froelich, the company believes the program had merit both to the schools and the students who would participate, but due to concerns that have been expressed, more public dialogue is needed. Some residents are opposed to the agreement, which was approved by the school board January 23rd. Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas is one of the owners of Lumenus.
Here is the statement issued Monday:
Lumenus USA
For Immediate Release
RE: Lumenus USA's Proposed Partnership with Valparaiso Community Schools
Date: February 10, 2014
In early 2013, Lumenus met with Superintendent Berta to discuss the possibility of creating a cross-cultural experience for high-achieving VHS and similarly high-achieving international students. We had several meetings with Superintendent Berta and his senior staff. Over the course of these meetings, we jointly identified several principles to guide this partnership in a manner to create a superlative program for all involved. The result was the agreement approved by the School Board on January 23, 2014.
Given public and media reaction to the proposed partnership, the principles and intentions of these meetings and discussions have been lost in the dialogue resulting in the potential for misunderstandings. Examples of these principles follow:
• Superintendent Berta and his senior staff established entrance criteria in addition to those initially proposed by Lumenus management making for a far more selective process that would ensure greater experiences for local students, international students, and faculty.
• Lumenus plans were dedicated to the establishment of a program creating opportunities for collaborative learning between international and local students placing VHS students at the forefront of developing intercultural competence.
• International student performance would not have been included in GPA/class rankings.
• It is our understanding that the School Board intended to add AP class sections if the demand had increased. Funding for class expansion would have been provided by the tuition monies collected by Lumenus.
• Lumenus had committed to providing its own guidance counselors for the international students in its program.
• Lumenus English as Second Language (ESL) instructors would have been provided to support VHS instructors in teaching courses for all VHS students of ESL.
• Lumenus investment in a program for the development of Life Success Skills courses that were developed in partnership with Franklin Covey and their "7 Habits of Highly Effective College Students." VHS students would have participated in this instruction.
• Lumenus is offering over 8,500 square feet of state-of-the art classroom space in its facilities to further augment the instruction of its students.
• International students would have not been allowed to participate in organized IHSAA varsity sports.
As a result of these misunderstandings and due to the public concern over the plan proposed by Lumenus and adopted by the school board at its last meeting, Lumenus is withdrawing its request for a partnership with the school corporation for the admission of up to thirty international students.
At this time, while we believe that the program has merit both to the schools and to the international students who would participate, we feel that, due to concerns expressed, more public dialogue is needed if this program is to be implemented and successful.
Should Lumenus desire to explore this program with the school board in the future, it would do so with opportunity for more public input and debate.
We do appreciate the support of Mr. Berta and the school board for approving a program they sincerely believed would be positive for our high school but, under the circumstances it is not fair to them or to those concerned parents, students and teachers to proceed ahead at this time.


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