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D-157 asks: Too many field trips?

RICHMOND – Do Richmond-Burton High School students go on too many field trips?

The question was raised by District 157 board President Cindy Holtz, who said she’s not sure of the answer.

“We are seeing an increase in the requests, but it’s more of an issue not of seeing an increase in requests as much as making sure that we are knowing what the students are doing, where they’re doing it and when they’re doing it,” Holtz said.

The district will put together a committee of teachers, students and the board to look at field-trip policy. Tom Gough will represent the board.

Currently, field trips require the approval of the superintendent or a designee, and students need permission of a parent or guardian. They are responsible for their own admission fees, food, lodging and miscellaneous costs. The school also can charge a bus fee for transportation costs. Those fees are waived for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

Trips farther than 200 miles or that involve an overnight stay require the school board’s OK. The board approved at least four such trips this year: to Washington, D.C., a SCUBA trip, and trips to France and Spain, board member Michelle Graham said.

Approval is based on educational value, student safety, parent concerns, heightened security alerts and liability concerns, according to the district’s policy.

“Big trips is where our concern is,” Holtz said. “[We want] to make sure we are making sure our kids are safe.”

Superintendent Dan Oest will look for an all-encompassing policy and not something the breaks down trips by when they occur.

The policy has been looked at previously, Holtz said. There was a time when the board approved only one trip every other year and later increased it to two a year.

That decision was never codified into the district’s written policy, she said.

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