School board questions proposed field trips
Updated 3:24 pm, Wednesday, October 5, 2016
“The number of days kids are out of school are unacceptable,” said Board of Education Vice Chairman Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross at the Oct. 4 board meeting. ”Normally, we don’t allow more than one day of school to be missed for some of these things. As a board, we’ve never really accepted that many out of school.”
Hagerty-Ross mentioned that several of the trips were in late April and coincided with finals and Advanced Placement exams, times when attendance is crucial for students, particularly with the seniors. She specifically expressed concerns over the high school business club’s plans to spend three days in late April at a conference in California, as well as the model congress’ proposed four day trip to Harvard University for a conference in February. Several of the other proposed trips would have students out of school for two days at a time.
The board also questioned whether faculty and staff members at the schools were on board with these proposals, considering the numbers of days students would be absent from school. They also expressed concerns that the same students would be on several of these proposed trips, causing their absences to add up.
“These are all trips we have participated in to various degrees and I think the kids that are involved in each one of these are very committed to these groups,” said Darien High School principal Ellen Dunn in response to the board’s concerns, mentioning students also have to qualify and be approved for these trips.
“I feel each one of these experiences have been experiences our students have benefited from in many ways,” she added. “These are experiences they can’t mimic in classroom.”
Superintendent Dan Brenner also had questions for Dunn about the trips that he wanted to address outside the board meeting. Due to these questions and a lack of pressing deadlines, the board decided to hold off on approving a majority of the field trips until further concerns could be addressed. The board only unanimously approved a high school exchange trip to China and a high school chorus trip to Florida, as those trips have been done before and required more time for planning, thus needing an earlier approval from the board.