NEWCOMB - A bill designed to strengthen the public schools of rural New York State will soon be presented before lawmakers in the Senate. Skip Hults of Newcomb Central School has been breaking ground with Newcomb's international student program since 2007, leading to the formation of the bill, which would amend at law prohibiting international students on a F1 visa to remain in public schools in the United States for more than one year.
Last year Hults and BOE President Steve Freiman met with educational aids to Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to discuss necessary changes to education law. Their plight was to create an amendment to that law.
Currently, international students can come to the United States on either a J1 or a F1 visa. Under a J1 visa, students are of traditional foreign exchange status in that they do not pay tuition, they do not receive course credit and after their year they return home.
Students on F1 educational visas pay tuition and are district students for credit, but can still only stay for one year. Neither visa allows for students to remain enrolled in public school for more than one year, while private schools can enroll their international students for all four years of high school.
During the immigration reform of 1996, an amendment was made to federal education law limiting the length of stay for international students in public schools based on unsubstantiated public claims. These claims stated that international students were not adequately supervised in the public school setting.
Since the development of the Department of Homeland Security, the United states Government keeps careful track of all foreign citizens legally entering the united states, therefor deeming the claims of 1996 irrelevant.
Financial advantage has become of the biggest selling points of the proposed reform. Hults revealed that this would bring substantial revenue to the US school system.
"This is now a billion dollar a year industry in Canada and we are sitting by the sidelines," said Hults. "International students want to graduate in the US and go on to American universities."
If reversed, the F1 law would allow students to enroll permanently and eventually graduate from public schools in the US. Currently, the only means for this is to enroll and pay expensive tuition at a private school.
"We will provide equal quality education with the Newcomb experience for a very fraction of the cost," said Hults.
Hults envisions close $16,000 in tuition and room a board from interstational students if the bill passes.
"If Newcomb is going to survive as a school and as a town, our school must remain viable and this a great way of continuing viability," said Hults.
If passed, the F1 reform will provide an avenue for NCS to continue with its plan to build dorms and Hults is confident that it will.
Hults is on the road this week, meeting with several organizations, including the New York State School Board's Association to prove that this is not just a Newcomb bill and schools across the state could benefit from a change in the law.
"What we do here is working, it's small but growing and can be duplicated," he said.