What Will Happen To John Smith’s ASDBC

By Mike Archer. The Abbotsford School District No. 34 Business Company (ASDBC) will hold its Annual General Meeting at 11:30 am on August 29 at the Best Western Hotel.

With the end of the ASDBC’s relationship with two overseas schools this spring, the future of the organization may be in doubt. Primarily formed as a means of making money by selling the BC curriculum overseas through a variety of agents and third party arrangements and attracting foreign students to Abbotsford schools, the whole idea has been under scrutiny and has had its share of controversies over the last decade.

At the AGM the financial statements will be made public for the year ended June 30, 2013 as well as the report of the auditors. As always the directors report will be presented and an election of new directors will take place.

The ASDBC is a private company with one shareholder – Abbotsford School District #34. The School District provides the company with $400,000 per year on a contract for services basis in order to fulfill its main function which is to recruit international students to attend Abbotsford schools.

In a series on the shadowy education business companies, Janet Steffenhagen of the Vancouver Sun has revealed that, “The government’s push for “school districts to become entrepreneurial by peddling education programs abroad was an expensive experiment that’s since fallen out of favour.”

In May of 2013, Steffenhagen revealed that, “New government rules have ended the Abbotsford school district’s relationship with two B.C. offshore schools.

“Until recently, the district’s business company had served as the link between the schools – one in South Korea and one in Colombia – and the B.C. education ministry, overseeing the delivery of the B.C. curriculum and gaining revenue from student tuition fees.”

According to Steffenhagen, one of the points of contention between the ASDBC and the government is “a provision that says they may no longer choose their own agent to liaise with the education ministry.

“Instead, they must select one from a pre-approved list of 16, or give those responsibilities to the school principal. That list did not include the agents now used by Abbotsford and New Westminster districts.”

Between its formation in 2007, and the AGM in 2010, the ASDBC reported it had attracted roughly 1,000 international students to the District representing revenue to the District of some $2.3 million dollars in 2008. In addition to the revenue from international students, the ASDBC returns much of the $400,000 it receives from the School District back to the District through contracts for services and any surplus/profit made by the ASDBC is also returned to the District in the form of an annual donation.

In 2007/2008 that donation was $125,000. In 2008/2009 it was reduced to $75,000 but services purchased from the District rose to $69,450.

Along with attracting international students to Abbotsford, the ASDBC was involved in several overseas contracts to provide the BC school curriculum to international students at overseas schools such as:
– Guangzhou Huamei International School in Guangzhou, China
– Bundang International School (BIS Canada) in Seongnam, South Korea
– Shanghai Foreign Language School of SISU, Shanghai, Republic of China

In addition, the ASDBC was negotiating a contract with Magsaysay, an international vocational training company based in the Philippines, that was expected to generate even more revenue for the District.

Company President John Smith has always maintained that, despite the controversy that has plagued some school district business companies, the ASDBC is a worthwhile investment for the taxpayers of Abbotsford.

For Background On The Abbotsford School District Business Company (ASDBC) Click Here.

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