Student exchange program may be cut from school's budget

Student exchange program may be cut from school's budget

READING, Pa. - A foreign student exchange program in the Reading School District faces an uncertain future.

As school board members try to find more ways to save money, district funding may no longer be available next year.

Since 2000, R.S.D. students have had the opportunity to learn German culture through personal experience. The district has partnered with a sister school in Reutlingen, Germany, where for two weeks students "exchange lives," learning what it's like to live in a foreign country and adapt in that culture.

"This year we took our largest group. We took 28 students, students from grades eight through 12 participated," said Kate Clewell, co-coordinator of foreign exchange program.

The program's future is in limbo because of school district budget cuts. In an effort to keep it alive, Clewell said students have taken matters into their own hands.

"We've raised about $4,000 to offset those amounts, and we continue to raise for next year's group," said Clewell.

In October, 14 Reading High School students, like Alyssa Pursel and Edwin Altamirano, traveled to Germany.

"It helps to put in perspective how your life is," said Pursel.

"You gain courage to be out there and I think that is something that I learned while I was over there," said Altamirano.

On Wednesday, 28 German students, like Paul Kurz, arrived in Reading to learn about America first hand.

"To find new friends, and see how they live here, see the school. I was amazed to see all the friends again I met in Germany," said Kurz.

School board members said they will be looking at the budget next week to better determine what programs they may have to cut.

Students said they hope the program will be able to thrive for years to come because such an opportunity comes once in a lifetime. 

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