Above: School Committeewoman Alyson Powell weighs in on field trip fundraising efforts.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The school year has begun, with its myriad forms, signup sheets and appeals for money. Not among them, so far anyway, is a request from the district for donations to help offset the cost of field trips.
The School Committee ruled last year, following a dictate from the state, that parent fees for field trips were no longer acceptable. But with budget money tight, the hope was that parents used to paying $20 dollars here, $35 dollars there, might donate that money instead in a lump sum at the beginning of the year so that field trips could continue unchanged.
The new school year has started, however, and there’s been nothing from the district about donations for field trips.
School Committeewomen Anne Musella and Alyson Powell, asked about this at the panel’s meeting Tuesday.
“In terms of the mechanics, we understood we didn’t want the PTGs to bear all the burden of fundraising, nor did we want that for teachers,” said Musella, who shepherded the field trip policy through the policy subcommittee last spring. “We thought parents could just write a check…. I have not seen any communication saying, by the way, you can make out a check to offset fundraising costs.”
She added, “We have realized our goal but it could fail on implementation. We don’t want to take opportunities away. We want to increase opportunities.”
Supt. Victor Mercurio said he’d assumed that work would be undertaken by the PTG or whatever group was organizing a trip.
If not the PTG or other group, he asked, “Who would do that?”
“I’m surprised to hear that question because that question was never raised” during last year’s policy discussions, Musella said. “That is a question that should have arisen months ago.”
“I apologize if I misunderstood,” said Mercurio. “It’s my error and I’ll correct it.”
Committeeman Jeff Dronzek said he envisioned each principal sending home a letter that talked about the policy change and outlined how a parent could contribute.
“The first year could be rough but I think it will work it’s way out,” he said.
Parent Denise Lopez said she thought the message to parents should go out as soon as possible and let parents know where their donations are going.
Mercurio said he would talk to the building administrators about sending a letter to parents. Musella and Powell said they would help, as did Greg Booth, the district’s director of operations, administration and finance.
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