Bridge to China: Benefits of controversial program outweigh costs, proponents say
...The Hanban trip is hosted by the Chinese government twice a year, and administrators and teachers from around the country travel to China to learn about the culture, the people and the advantages of Chinese immersion programs.
This is where Finch, who was then the Alpine curriculum director, said he was sold on the importance of the teaching young children Chinese. When he became principal, he decided to implement it.
But the state auditors office wrote in the October audit of school district travel that, "School districts should consider foregoing the trips until school budgets improve."
Since 2008, 159 Utah educators from 11 Utah school districts have gone to the week-long program, according to the audit. Utahns account for about 10 percent of the U.S. delegates. In 2009 alone, 762 delegates went from 40 states, about 19 delegates per state. Utah sent 83.
School districts pay a $900 registration fee per delegate for the summer conference and $450 per delegate for the winter conference. But two-thirds of the trip — round-trip international airfare, travel costs in China, lodging, group meals, tour guides and admission tickets — is paid for by Hanban, the Chinese government agency coordinating the program.
Auditors estimated that the total cost for Utah school districts for the trips in 2009 was about $90,000...