8/9/11 School board keeps trip policy

School board keeps trip policy
Amended rules tabled, labeled too restrictive
By Mike Wilder The Times-News 8/9/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education will keep its current policy on field trips, at least for now.

 During a Monday afternoon work session, board members agreed to set aside a policy most had said put too many limits on school-related trips for students.

 The board agreed to table the policy, meaning it can revisit the subject again at the request of a board member or school system administrators.

 During a June meeting, board members Kristen Moffitt, Patsy Simpson, Tony Rose and Steve Van Pelt suggested changes to the policy. Their concerns included a ban on overnight travel until students reach fifth grade, which would have eliminated a trip to the Outer Banks that has been offered to some fourth-grade students.

 A related concern was a provision in the proposed policy that day trips be limited to 150 miles or less each way.

 During the previous meeting, Rose read a letter from teachers discussing the merits of travel to the state’s mountains and coast and the learning experiences provided to students. Simpson mentioned the lack of opportunity for many of the students to take similar trips with their families, and Moffitt mentioned providing students with hands-on opportunities at an early age to heighten their interest in education.

 Rose and Simpson said they had heard from teachers who felt they’d had insufficient input into the policy, while Van Pelt suggested parent involvement in exploring revisions would be a wise move.

 After the policy came back to the school board Monday with no changes, Rose made the motion that it be tabled, which was approved by the board following a second by Simpson.

 Rose said he was disappointed in the policy remaining unchanged from the previous meeting. Before he made the motion, board chairwoman Jackie Cole asked if the board would be “creating something that’s too limiting” by approving the policy.

 Cole suggested that Lillie Cox, the system’s new superintendent, might have insights into what changes to the system’s field-trip policy would be beneficial.

 Members of the committee that developed the policy said they felt shorter trips would in many cases better serve students by limiting travel time and increasing time spent at the site.

 Many of the policy’s provisions — such as maximizing the link between field trips and what students are learning in class — were not controversial.