LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield High School is looking to continue offering an international exchange student program next year.

Principal Bob Cleary recalled during the School Committee’s Jan. 10 meeting that Educatius Group is a F-1 Public High School program that allows international students to attend a public high school for either a semester or an entire academic year. Students are required to pay tuition to the school district they choose to attend.

“Our international student program offered by Educatius has really been great,” said Cleary. “We really enjoy it.”

Cleary said seven students from Germany, Italy and Spain enrolled at the high school this year.

“We have six full-year students and had one semester student who went back around Christmas break,” said Cleary. “Originally, five of our students were yearlong students and two were semester students, but one of the semester students enjoyed it so much they petitioned to stay for the whole year.”

Cleary said the high school has had a cap of enrolling no more than 10 students.

“We have always had a limit of taking no more than 10 students,” said Cleary. “We have been averaging between seven and eight students, and we had a couple of years where we had four and five students. We start getting applications in the spring. I imagine we will have seven to 10 students again next year.”

As part of the Educatius Group program, school districts are required to obtain an I-20 form from the Department of Homeland Security, which provides information on a student’s F or M status. School districts will release an F-1 visa once a student gets accepted.

Cleary noted that exchange students are required to take tests at the beginning of the school year to determine their proficiency level in English and math.

“That has been instrumental for us,” said Cleary. “We previously had students showing up the day before school started, which is why we decided to start the program a little sooner. We try to have students come the week before so they can jump right in, especially if they play a sport.”

Cleary noted that the exchange students work closely with English Language (EL) Coordinator Meg Valentine and English language paraprofessional Taylor Woodbury.

“Most of our students come in with great English proficiency, but very oftentimes Meg and Taylor are helping those students,” said Cleary. “We don’t want to overtax our EL program that is dealing with our own students as well as our international students.”

School Committee member Jamie Hayman said he has become more familiar with the Educatius Group program this year because his oldest daughter, Ella, is mentoring two exchange students.

“I have done some research about the program to see where it could get better,” said Hayman. “I think there is more we can do on the front end to make the transition into the school a little bit easier.”

While Hayman noted that Educatius Group is responsible for finding host families for exchange students, he said the organization has historically “scurried around at the last minute desperately trying to find host families.”

“I fully support the exchange program,” said Hayman. “I think it’s incredibly beneficial for our students and the students who are visiting, and I think the district does a really good job with these students. But the question that I have is whether Educatius is the right partner for Lynnfield long-term? I don’t know the answer, but we see the same scurrying around each summer. I want to make sure we are doing right by these students because it’s a huge ask to be away from your family for a year.”

School Committee Vice Chair Stacy Dahlstedt recalled that Cleary has sent emails to residents asking if they are interested in serving as hosting families in the spring and summer.

“I feel like it does get under the gun pretty close to the school year,” said Dahlstedt. “From a calendar and scheduling perspective, we could try to seek out host families sooner but situations could change.”

While Cleary said there are other international exchange student programs, he said those organizations have struggled finding host families as well.

“It’s not easy to do,” said Cleary. “It’s a lot of work and is a big ask. I think Educatius does a pretty good job with it, but they have gone through a transition within the last year. From the last few communications I have had with them, they seem to be more on the ball. They get us the information and we send it out to the community. We act as their agent, but we are not in charge of finding the host families.”

Cleary recalled that international students pay Educatius Group money that is used for living expenses.

“Host families receive a stipend from Educatius,” said Cleary. “We try to work with Educatius to support students, but there are certainly things we could improve. Housing has certainly been the hardest part, and we can get that information out sooner district-wide. We were lucky this year where we had some folks whose kids graduated, and they took students in.”

Superintendent Kristen Vogel proposed that the School Committee vote to allow the high school to enroll a certain number of international students as opposed to accepting up to 10 students.

“That will let us see if we have a better experience finding host families and housing as opposed to putting a cap at 10,” said Vogel.

Hayman suggested that the school board form a subcommittee to identify Educatius Group’s “strengths and weaknesses.”

“It’s a lot more than finding spare rooms,” said Hayman. “It’s being a parent to a kid from another country, and all of the support that goes into that. I get they are very independent, but there is a level of nurture that goes along with it. I think it would be valuable for us to spend a year keeping an eye on it.”

In response to a question from Dahlstedt, Cleary said Educatius students enroll in all four grades at LHS. He recalled that the high school does not give Educatius students a diploma because they would be required to take and pass the MCAS English, math and science exams.

“That creates extra pressure,” said Cleary. “Most of our students who come jump right in and play a sport, participate in the music program or get involved in drama. If a student comes in as a sophomore, they still have to take MCAS but they are not worried about passing it so they can graduate.”

The School Committee will be voting on continuing the Educatius Group program on Tuesday, Jan. 24.