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Bipartisan effort to help rural schools

By Lombardo David
Friday, March 15, 2013

The partisan divide is being bridged by two Capital Region members of the House of Representatives to help rural schools.

U.S. Rep. Bil Owens, D-Plattsburgh, and Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, have reintroduced a bill that would help rural schools deal with the problem of decreasing student enrollment. The proposed legislation, “Strengthening America's Public Schools Through Promoting Foreign Investment Act," referred to by me as the SAPSTPFIA, would allow foreign exchange students to stay in America longer. There are no current restrictions on students attending private or parochial schools.

Gibson said in a statement that public schools aren't able to compete with private and parochial schools for foreign exchange students. “I have heard directly from local educators and school board members about the importance of the F-1 visa program and how they need this commonsense reform," he said. "As a father of three children enrolled in public schools, I am committed to strengthening our local education systems, and this bill is a zero-cost measure to do just that.”

Owens said in a statement, “Recruiting foreign exchange students is one of many ways that innovative public schools are working to improve their bottom lines and continue providing a quality education to young students.

“This legislation is a common-sense, no-cost fix to a flaw in the current visa system that will help give local schools an opportunity to generate additional revenue in times of falling enrollment," he added.

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