Field Trip Costs Cause Concern for Kinnelon BOE
Board members question whether $2K in field trip costs is too much to ask of wind ensemble students' parents.
Instructors of the Kinnelon High School wind ensemble and their students may have to make a choice on which of two competition field trips they take this year after school board members expressed concerns over the costs of sending students on both.
The school board's policy committee met Thursday and discussed the trips, one already scheduled for Colonial Williamsburg during Memorial Day weekend and the other for Disney World in Florida. The trips cost about $1,000 per student each and policy committee members, including Board Member Marianne DeAlessi, discussed during the work session board of education meeting Thursday how allowing both trips may be asking too much of parents from the same group of students.
"There could be children that can't afford it in these economic times," DeAlessi said.
While a date has not yet been chosen for the Disney World trip, DeAlessi suggested perhaps the wind ensemble instructors chose a competition trip that would not require a flight and cost less. Or, she said, the policy committee talked about recommending that the wind ensemble choose one of the two trips.
But Board Member Katie Stylianou said she did not feel the board should interfere with opportuntities for the students to attend the trips or compete, especially since the students have the ability to fundraise for money to pay for their individual trips.
"I wouldn't want to stifle their energies," she said.
Some money is available for students who qualify as not being able to afford field trips, Board Member Marcy Pryor said. But some restrictions do apply.
"In order for a kid to get money for the trip, they have to qualify for free and reduced lunch," she said.
Board President Margaret Zybrick said she would want answers to several questions before the board approve or not approve both field trips. Those questions include how many students would actually be interested in attending the trips and how many academic days they would be missing if they went on each. Interim Superintendent Diane DiGiuseppe said last year, the chorus group had a situation where a field trip was planned and scheduled but not enough students would attend. This year, she said, the teachers wanted to ensure the trips were approved before going through the process of alerting parents and students to the trips.
Board Member Keith Dama was concerned that the trip would not be worth it for those who do attend if some of the students are not able to go because of the cost.
"If a number of wind ensemble members can't participate by choice, then the band, frankly, isn't going to sound right," he said.
Stylianou said it should be up to the instructors to decide the opportunities for the students.
"If these two groups want to do two or three or four [trips], why would we want to hold back their efforts?" she said.
What do you think? Should the school board decide how many trips to allow to potentially lower the cost burden to parents or leave the decision up to the parents on whether to pay to send the students on the trips? Participate in our poll below then leave your thoughts in the comments.