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March 17, 2010

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Home » Metro » Education

Private middle school loses bid to close

LOCAL government yesterday rejected the application of a private school that wanted to close its doors because it claimed to run into financial difficulties.

Shanghai Xinhe Middle School in Zhabei District sent a notice to parents on Friday, saying it had decided to halt new enrollments after consulting with the district education bureau.

But it promised to keep the school running for three years until all 1,000-plus students have graduated.

Parents protested immediately.

"Teachers will pay little attention to the kids under the pressure of unemployment in months or years," said a woman surnamed Wu.

"Students cannot study well in a school to be closed," Wu said.

Zhabei District Education Bureau announced yesterday that the application failed and the school must continue admitting new students. The bureau said it had studied Xinhe's application, but didn't discuss its reasons for rejecting it.

The announcement came at a meeting with parents held by district's governmental and educational authorities at the school yesterday.

At the meeting, the education bureau said it had received the school's application to cease admissions only last Friday and, contrary to the school's statement, had not consulted with the school about the case.

Upon hearing the bureau's decision, the school investor, Yonghe Group, appealed for subsidies from the government to maintain operations, saying the school was running a deficit every year.

"The group loses 1.6 million yuan (US$234,000) for running the school," said Zhang Guoliang, president of the firm.

On the contrary, school officials said, the school turned over 2 million yuan to 3 million yuan to the investing company Yonghe Group.

Moreover, officials said, the company actually planned to sell the land of the school for the pursuit of higher profits. Zhang disputed both of those statements.

Parents echoed school officials, saying Xinhe charges each student 9,000 yuan a year and ought to have plenty of resources.

Even though many private middle schools are shrinking because of the country's low-birth rate, Xinhe has students competing to get in. It's considered to be one of the top three private middle schools in the district.

Parents asked for an apology from the group.

The education authorities didn't respond to the subsidy appeal nor to questions about the school's financial situation immediately yesterday.


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