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Chinese looking at private land for dorm

December 17, 2014 - After being unable to come to agreement on a lease agreement between Weiming Education Group (WEG) and Oxford Schools, WEG is looking at private land around Oxford in which to build a dormitory to house international students, according to Deputy Superintendent Tim Throne who recently returned from China earlier this month.

Throne said the purpose of his trip was "twofold." The first objective was to market and sell Oxford Schools to potential international students.

"We would do that in the morning and in the afternoon, we would do student interviews," he said. "We came up with a rubric and really what that is, is an interview process to find out if they're ready to be admitted into Oxford High School."

Other representatives from Weiming's partner schools, which included Traverse City, East Kentwood, Rockford and a district in Ohio were also present doing the same thing.

"We all basically did some power points and videos of our school to get an idea of what the school looks like, the programs and

all that kind of stuff to get them excited about what we have to offer," Throne added.

The second objective was to meet with the owners of Weiming and go over the lease agreement.

"At the end of my trip, I met up with Lin Hao, in Beijing to discuss the lease and our partnership in general," Throne said. "After a couple hours of very direct conversation, Lin Hao concluded that there was no way we were going to come to an agreement with leasing the district's property."

The sticking point in the agreement is a need for an exit strategy on the part of Weiming, and Oxford's inability to give one, so if the partnership fell apart in 10 or 15 years, before the 20-year lease agreement was up, Weiming could sell the building and property in order to retrieve some of its investment money back.

However, because the building was going to be built on school property, Throne said the school wanted the "right of assignment," which means the building would be put under the Oxford district's control or Weiming would demo the building and restore the land back to its original makeup.

When investing a millions of dollars into a building, Throne said he understands why they wouldn't agree to it and yet he understands why the school wants full control as well.

"We didn't want a dental office or something else basically popping up on our school grounds and us not having any say on it," he added. "So, we agreed that it's just not going to work, but they're still going to pursue building a dorm-type facility, but it's just not going to be on school grounds."

However, Throne noted that he was led to believe there are other Oakland County interests that are vying for Weiming to build somewhere else in the county.

"Would I hate to see us lose this opportunity? I would, especially when we're looking at being able to use the facility for maybe some summer camps or a lot of different things," he said. "It's up to Weiming to ultimately decide if Oxford and the community is the right fit for them or does it make sense to go somewhere else."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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