VINCENT - The Warren Local school district entered into an agreement Monday with a Chinese middle school that could lead to teacher and exchange programs at little or no cost to the district.
The Warren Board of Education approved a sister school agreement with Chongquing Bashu Middle School, a school of 13,000 top Chinese students in seventh-through-11th grades.
"This initial agreement obligates us to nothing," said Warren Superintendent Tom Gibbs. "It just opens the door for me to put in some applications."
Bashu Middle School is considered a "key school" in China, meaning that the Chinese Ministry of Education provides significant funding for international exchange programs involving the school, Gibbs said.
"In all the school districts we spoke to, the most a district has had to pay to have a Chinese teacher come and teach for a year is $20,000," he said. "Some have paid nothing."
The sister school agreement is necessary in order to apply for the funding the Chinese government offers.
6:30 p.m. Jan. 11, administration office; organizational meeting with the regular monthly meeting to follow.
Gibbs and Warren Board of Education President John Rauch visited Bashu Middle School during a trip to China earlier this month, meeting the administrators, students and sitting in on classes. Their trip was not funded by district dollars.
Rauch said he thinks it's vital for area students to be exposed to other countries and cultures in a way that a partnership with a Chinese school may be able to provide.
"When you look at the economic might of China... it makes a lot of sense to me, especially when the Chinese government is reaching out to us and providing a lot of resources," he said.
"I will value my trip to China for the rest of my life, and if we can give our young people opportunities like this, we're doing a great thing for our kids," Rauch said.
Any specific agreements or exchanges as a result of the sister school agreement will be voted on by the board as they come up, Gibbs said.
"This agreement has committed us to nothing," he said. "But I think we have a responsibility to help our young people understand this is a global community we live in."