CLEARFIELD – Clearfield students take field trips every year and tracking their costs in the budget was a topic of discussion at Monday night’s school board committee meeting.
For example, a trip request has been submitted to the school board for seniors to visit Washington, D.C. and Arlington Cemetery in May.
At the cemetery, students have plans to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Wreaths will also be laid at the tombs of a Clearfield couple buried there.
Other trips, if approved, would take third-grade students to Old Bedford Village and 16 students to Fallingwater and the Flight 93 Memorial.
Still others would allow students to participate in a K’NEX STEM Design Challenge at Lock Haven Clearfield; Logs 2 Lumber at Curwensville; the Envirothon at Curwensville Lake and more.
While board member Greg Clarke believes it is “commendable” for teachers to give students these experiences, he also would like the district to look to the future.
According to him, the board has previously discussed the costs involved for the district to provide field trips. He would like school officials to develop a database of the costs for transportation to/from each destination and for substitutes.
When a teacher completes a field trip request form, Clarke wants them to see and be aware of the costs involved and that it’s a “financial consideration” for the district.
“At some point, we may have to stop field trips,” he said. “But how will we do that if we don’t know the costs? We need some ammunition to fire.”
Business Administrator Sam Maney said the board has discussed the costs of field trips in the past, but he’s been waiting for feedback and some direction on how he should address it in the budget.
He explained that the funds for field trips are taken from the budgetary reserve. He said he would like the board to let him know what amount that it’s comfortable with.
Maney said he tries to prioritize field trip requests by class trips at the top due to them affording an experience to all students. From there, he classifies classroom extension opportunities as next important and after that the trips for smaller groups.
But he said that was only his opinion and he reiterated the need for more feedback from the board on how it would like to manage field trips within the budget.
After the meeting, board President Larry Putt and Superintendent Terry Struble said the matter needed to be discussed further, and they were only trying to make it fair to everyone.
In other discussion regarding field trips, board member Randy Pataky said the district needed to equip the school vans with winter tires.
He said teachers and coaches are hauling students around in the winter and the vans have all-season tires, which don’t have the same traction as winter tires.
Struble mentioned that travel is weather dependent and school officials would determine if the tires would make a difference. He added that Rick Bunning, director of buildings and grounds, is currently looking into the costs for the tires.
Struble explained that the district couldn’t just pick the tires off the shelf at a local store, because they must be special ordered for the vans.