NEWCOMB — When Newcomb Central School enrollment dropped to 55 students in 2006, Superintendent Clark “Skip” Hults felt something needed to be done to reverse the trend.
Due to the school’s isolated location, consolidation was not considered an option, so Hults decided to look elsewhere, primarily internationally.
Since 2006, Newcomb has nearly doubled its enrollment to 105. During this time, it has enrolled 60 international students from 25 countries, including Serbia, China, Brazil and Zimbabwe.
For his and the district’s efforts, Hults was recognized recently in a special edition of Education Week, and he will go to Washington, D.C., to attend a function featuring U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and other leaders in the field.
The international students who attend Newcomb pay tuition, which has financially assisted the district.
Hults estimates the program will bring in about $250,000 in revenue this year, which covers its expenses and adds to the district’s $3.9 million budget.
The students’ presence also provides cultural enhancement to local youths and the community.
“I believe this has the potential to become a rural norm,” Hults said. “It’s a win-win.”
‘THE BEST THING’
Hults had to weave his way through the intricacies of governmental bureaucracy to obtain the proper visas.
In addition, he is hoping to foster change in regulations that would result in dormitories and would allow international students to stay for more than a year.
Newcomb has established such a good reputation for its program that the district has had to limit applicants.
Out-of-district students have been applying, and, in one case, a family moved to Newcomb because of the program.
Sue Goodspeed said she and her husband, Sterling, and their two sons, Taylor, 19, and Jay, 12, relocated from 25 miles away because of the international-student program.
“It’s the best thing we could ever have done for either of them,” she says of her children.