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A review of proposed student trips outside the United States prompted questions among District 202 Board members about affordability and concerns about enrichment opportunities for students who stay at home.
“Each year we bring this to the Board and each year it is a reminder of an array of opportunities our students have,” said Superintendent Eric Witherspoon.
The five trips proposed were to Stratford, Canada, to attend the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and trips to Japan, Italy, France and Spain for language students. Board approval is required for trips outside the country.
Projected costs ranged from a low of $650 for the Stratford trip to a high of $4,000 for the Italy trip.
“What is done to assist students with fundraising or other measures to ensure that students of differing socioeconomic status have an equal opportunity to participate?” asked Board member Deborah Graham.
Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marilyn Madden said, “Typically, the sponsors will have a fundraising activity . . . and we do use the Unterman Fund to pay for students who may be on free or reduced lunch who may not be able to afford the trip.” She also said that sometimes students are allowed to pay for the trip over time.
Board member Gretchen Livingston suggested that more information be provided to parents about trips that might be available to their children during high school so they could plan more effectively.
“I don’t have a sense, as a parent, of what potential trips might be on the table for my child down the road,” said Ms. Livingston. “I think it would be nice to just know that, to better prepare parents for planning purposes and savings purposes.”
Board President Rachel Hayman said she had similar concerns about cost as well as impact on students who do not participate in the trips.
“What happens to those students who can’t participate?” Ms. Hayman queried. “Are they really shortchanged for the 8-10 days that their classmates are off in a different country?”
Ms. Madden suggested the trip organizers make a presentation to the Board about the value of the trips and about alternate arrangements for nonparticipating students.
The Board will vote on the proposal at its May 26 meeting.