By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The School Committee will hold a special workshop meeting on Tuesday, June 11, to discuss revisions to the field trip policy to eliminate parent fees. This comes in the wake of an advisory opinion from the R.I. Department of Education stating field trips that are part of the school curriculum must be funded by school districts. Traditionally, parents have paid fees for everything from a trip to a farm in elementary school (maybe $6) to the longtime Washington D.C. trip at Cole (slated for $1,400 this year).
The advisory opinion was sought by the EG School Committee last September after years of “no” votes from School Committeeman Matt Plain on trips such as that Washington D.C. trip and ensuing questions by other members over the legality of approving such trips (the School Committee only votes on trips that involve an overnight or are out-of-state).
The committee voted down the Cole D.C. trip this year. (It was reorganized by parents and run as an extra-school event.)
The workshop agenda (not yet released) will also include discussion of two partner policies, on fundraising and student activity accounts. According to School Committeewoman Anne Musella, who heads the policy subcommittee that is charged with navigating the district’s no-parent-fee future, the plan is that no trips be eliminated. Instead, the vision is to alter the funding mechanism, by fundraising and asking for non-specific parent donations.
Some parents have their doubts and fear that trips will be eliminated in the face of ever-tightening school budgets, especially trips for students at Cole and the EGHS, where there are a variety of trips related to club activities, such as the Model UN, or a music-related competition. At present, there is no line item for field trips in the 2020 budget, although revisions to the budget can be made by the School Committee.
The meeting will be held at Cole Middle School at 5:30 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and public comment will be allowed, school officials said Tuesday.
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