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Topic: OT: School trips, Too extravagant?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 4:59 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For you parents out there, I'm curious what kind of experiences you've had with your kids' school trips.  Do your kids' schools plan really expensive school trips?  I'm kind of floored by what my son's school seems to expect parents to pay and I'm wondering if this is the norm.

In elementary school, it was $1,000 for the kids to go to 'Space Camp' in Huntsville, Alabama.  Then in middle school, it was $1,500 for a 5-day trip to Washington, DC and a $1,700 trip to Quebec.  Now, he's a freshman in high school and the Symphony Band is planning to go to France next spring -- price tag is $4,000.

I keep hearing how these trips are such "great opportunities" but, frankly, I resent them.  Don't get me wrong -- I love to travel and we travel quite a bit as a family.  But, with the exception of space camp, these trips have been just chaperoned sighseeing tours and don't offer anything special -- except that the kids get to go with their friends.  And, basically, if you don't pay, you don't go (which just seems wrong in a public school.)

So, am I the only parent who feels this way?  If they take 100 kids to France, that's $400K!  That would buy so much equipment, instruments and guest musicians to give master classes...  I just feel like it's such a huge waste of money.  But the other parents and the band director are SOOO enthusiastic, I feel like I've got to be missing something...


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll bet the teachers that act as chaperons don't pay $4,000.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My guys just graduated High School. One in 2011 and one in 2012. The oldest was in more trips by far. He did a Gifted program trip to camp in Omsi, that was a 7 hour bus trip and maybe $400 but they raised all the money so none from family. He also did several band trips, mostly one day to HSU and A jazz Festival in Reno and performing in Disneyland. Again the teacher arranged plenty of fund raisers so it could be done with no family cost. The big one was an 8th grade trip to DC for a week and cost somewhere between $2000 and $3000 if I remember right.

His brother did the Omsi trip and a outdoor school camping trip run by rangers about 50 miles south of here and that was all.  Of course they have friends doing college semesters in England and Austria and he really wants to go somewhere out of the country too.

My husband is a high School Band and Choir teacher who has travelled with kids for 23 years. They mostly go to San Francisco and do a lot of cost cutting like camping on the gym floor at a local high school, but again, he finds creative ways that kids can earn the money if they choose to participate and it is important here. We are really pretty isolated, some of these kids haven't ever been to the next town up the coast 25 miles away or seen an escalator or elevator or a traffic jam.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Lamebeaver @ Jan. 23 2013, 2:05 pm)
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I'll bet the teachers that act as chaperons don't pay $4,000.

When my husband takes kids on trips he sometimes gets a discount, some places give one free chaperone admission for every so many kids and he passes that on by dividing the actual expense by the number of participants, but yeah, we pay for his trips and then he is "at work" 24 hours a day, sleeping eating and monitoring the kids while juggling all the other details. And if any kids family members come along they get figured in to the cost too.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Kids don't explore or get out much in some families. My school has a really high Hmong and Hispanic population and a low income. The parents work hard but the kids don't get taken many places I think. I know from the school you can hear the fog horn, but every year when I'd take kids to the beach some of them would have never seen the ocean before. Literally 4 blocks from school. The first time on gasped as pointed "what's that!" I though he had to be joking

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My kids have had similar opportunities, some we have taken advantage of, others not.
They have all been voluntary though - extracurricular activities.  
There has been no expectation of their participation.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:37 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Lamebeaver @ Jan. 23 2013, 5:05 pm)
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I'll bet the teachers that act as chaperons don't pay $4,000.

Parent-chaperones pay their own way just like the students.  The only teachers that go are those associated with the music department and their expenses are paid for and I don't have an issue with that at all.  Band/orchestra directors work well over-and-beyond, imo.

I didn't mention the various band camps and I don't mind those.  The kids aren't "sight-seeing"; they're usually working pretty hard and the cost is reasonable since we're not paying some third-party travel agent.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

No kids here, but I've watched in dismay as the costs for such things has skyrocketed for my nieces and cousins.  My most expensive school trip was going to a local museum, which I think cost less than $10 in the late 60s.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Jan. 23 2013, 2:59 pm)
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And, basically, if you don't pay, you don't go (which just seems wrong in a public school.)

Is that entirely the case?  In my experience (when I used to teach high school), trips were either free for the kids, they earned the money through fundraisers, or if they cost $$ there was some set aside for need-based assistance for kids who couldn't afford it outright.

But I'm not at your school, so I can't say for sure how your school does it.  Some higher-income districts (which I never taught in) make more presumptions about what their kids' parents can afford.

I was a Math teacher, so long-distance travelling field trips weren't really in my curriculum.  However, as a wrestling coach we'd occasionally scrounge the funds for an out-of-state tournament.  Usually worked like above.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Echo @ Jan. 23 2013, 5:27 pm)
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Kids don't explore or get out much in some families. My school has a really high Hmong and Hispanic population and a low income. The parents work hard but the kids don't get taken many places I think. I know from the school you can hear the fog horn, but every year when I'd take kids to the beach some of them would have never seen the ocean before. Literally 4 blocks from school. The first time on gasped as pointed "what's that!" I though he had to be joking

Yeah, I see your point.  We live in a fairly well-educated college town, so the demographics are probably different.  And, ironically, the kids whose parents may not take them places, whether because they can't afford to or don't think it worthwhile, are the same ones who can't afford to go on the school trips.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:45 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow, those costs seem extravagant, with not much education involved, IMO.

You can send your kid to a month long NOLS class for that kind of money, maybe even a semester course, and get some of the best education available anywhere.

I think you can take a Wilderness EMT course for about $3,500, and have medical skills for a lifetime.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Have you talked with the principal?  Don't go in there screaming and raging, but a quiet conversation just to voice your concerns might not hurt, especially if other parents share the sentiment.

Most teachers aren't coordinating with the bigger picture (with other teachers/programs) in the school when planning such trips.  It may be that to the teacher it's a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience for the kids, but don't entirely realize the same kids went on a giant band trip the year before, three different sports trips in the past two years, a foreign-language trip earlier that year, and so on.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 5:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(GoBlueHiker @ Jan. 23 2013, 5:43 pm)
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(TigerFan @ Jan. 23 2013, 2:59 pm)
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And, basically, if you don't pay, you don't go (which just seems wrong in a public school.)

Is that entirely the case?  In my experience (when I used to teach high school), trips were either free for the kids, they earned the money through fundraisers, or if they cost $$ there was some set aside for need-based assistance for kids could go who couldn't afford it outright.

But I'm not at your school, so I can't say for sure how your school does it.  Some higher-income districts (which I never taught in) make more presumptions about what their kids' parents can afford.

I was a Math teacher, so travelling field trips weren't in my curriculum.  However, as a wrestling coach we'd occasionally scrounge the funds for an out-of-state tournament.  Usually worked like above.

Yes, the kids do some fund-raising but, in reality, none of them have enough time to raise that much money.  Most parents would rather just write a check then volunteer their time.  They will raise enough to offset the cost of the trip by a couple of hundred dollars each at best... and the $4000 price tag is after taking that into account.

The music department at the high school has a budget for scholarships for need-based assistance.  But considering they only give out 2 or 3 private lesson grants a year, I can't imagine they will send that many on the France trip.  Most parents pay and they have a whole website set up with payment plans and such.  They even accept credit cards.

School budgets have really been cut severly in the last few years, so parents are paying for a bigger share of many things, like sports, music, etc.  I'm OK with that, in terms of the basic expenses, like uniforms, equipment, etc.  I'd feel the same way about tournaments or music competitions, band camp, etc.  I just don't think that a 9-day tour of Paris and the Loire Valley fall into the same category...


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

+1 to GBH's advice - in my experience there are usually some funds set aside for those truly in need.

TigerFan - if I remember correctly you're in the MI area, right?  I don't think the trips sound all that expensive for what they are.  $1,500 for flight, hotel, meals, entertainment for 5 days in DC sounds about right to me.

I don't remember exact pricing, but I was in high school from 1996-2000 and was a part of the band.  We did one trip a year, and I think the cost was somewhere between $1000-$1500. In retrospect I will say this, I truly cherished those memories (marching in the nightlight parade at in Disneyworld, marching in Bill Clinton's 2nd Inaugural Parade, etc.), but even if I would have been somewhat crushed as a teen, my life would pretty much be the same if I hadn't taken those trips (well except for the Inaugural Parade!!).

Overall though - I'm of the opinion that if a school related organization is going to be sponsoring trips of that magnitude in cost, then it should be mandatory that there are funds available for underprivileged kids.

ETA: Ah, I didn't see your response to GBH concerning need-based funding.  I forget how severely the funding for some districts has been since I graduated, and of course in most cases the music dept is the first to be cut (as it was at my former high school...


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TigerFan @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:57 pm)
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The music department at the high school has a budget for scholarships for need-based assistance.  But considering they only give out 2 or 3 private lesson grants a year, I can't imagine they will send that many on the France trip.  Most parents pay and they have a whole website set up with payment plans and such.  They even accept credit cards.

Well, to be fair (I mean this constructively), "I can't imagine" doesn't really mean much.  It sounds like most kids' parents can afford it just fine, but if there's a few that can't, they might have the funds already set aside for that, completely separate from funds set aside for non-trip expenses like lessons and such.  It doesn't hurt to ask.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thank heavens I don't have kids -- so had it great at the receiving end; and now, no need to give nottin'.  :p

Kidding aside... and thinking back to my own high school days... I don't recall school trips being more than a couple tens of dollars -- certainly nothing near fifty.  And for our graduation ceremony and dinner dance, we raised money by car wash, putting on a play, and a school carnival.  It was fun.

I'm all for traveling abroad -- our country needs to be a lot less provincial in its world view.  But I also feel that school kids going as a group are too cocooned to get much benefit.

So yeah, maybe parents can band together and tell their kids that if they want fun, they'll have to plan far ahead to generate the funds needed??


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I have to say that those costs are pretty huge.  Our grade school students (this included mine but is the whole district) went to Outdoor Ed in 5th grade, at a cost of about $200 per.  It was held at a Y camp about an hour away, and PTAs make sure that every student can go, with fund-raising and scholarships.  Other field trips to museums, etc., are fully funded through PTA and/or school funds.

No overnight trips in Jr. Hi, though students at one school organized and, after two years, got approval for a trip to WA DC.  This was a very small group, and obviously cost more per student.  Part of what they had to do to get School Board approval was present a realistic fund-raising plan so that no student would be excluded for financial reasons.

Things get fuzzier in high school.  During Interim week at Eldest Son's school, classes range from strictly local with some bus fares to a 12-day trip to Europe with a much higher price tag (well under your $4000, though, and this is all the way from the West Coast).  Heavy fund-raising is involved but I am certain that parents must bear some cost and that some don't go who might because of that.

This gets into fuzzy ground, legally speaking.  At least in CA, they are cracking down on charging students for activities, in-class or extra-curricular (I'm a little surprised that we are still paying for PE uniforms, but believe there is always to option to provide your own similar clothing).  Things like special trips are a grey area, but as you note, the students most in need of such experiences are the ones least likely to be able to participate.

BTW, my son's Interim class costs $75 or something.  If we could not pay, I assume we could apply to the school for funding, but I'm not actually sure how that works.

And when I was in school?  Our band managed to travel to Seattle (a short ferry ride away) once a year to participate in a contest.  That was about it.  And we funded that completley through the Band Boosters (cutting, splitting, and selling firewood, among other things--imagine getting Board Approval for THAT today!).


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Ben2World @ Jan. 23 2013, 6:13 pm)
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Kidding aside... and thinking back to my own high school days... I don't recall school trips being more than a couple tens of dollars -- certainly nothing near fifty.  And for our graduation ceremony and dinner dance, we raised money by car wash, putting on a play, and a school carnival.  It was fun.

I think the difference with these trips is that they are sponsored by an "extracurricular department", such as the band.  When I said my typical trips were $1000 - $1500 those were the interstate trips I was taking with the band where, in addition to sight seeing, we would perform (often multiple times over a given trip).

However, events that were open to the entire school (dances, graduation ceremony, even smaller "day" trips to local areas of interest, etc.) did cost far, far less. It was much easier for the school to take an inclusive approach for a trip to local farms that cost maybe $10-$20 student. But the band was considered optional participation, and so too were it's more expensive trips.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(EastieTrekker @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:19 pm)
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(Ben2World @ Jan. 23 2013, 6:13 pm)
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Kidding aside... and thinking back to my own high school days... I don't recall school trips being more than a couple tens of dollars -- certainly nothing near fifty.  And for our graduation ceremony and dinner dance, we raised money by car wash, putting on a play, and a school carnival.  It was fun.

I think the difference with these trips is that they are sponsored by an "extracurricular department", such as the band.  When I said my typical trips were $1000 - $1500 those were the interstate trips I was taking with the band where, in addition to sight seeing, we would perform (often multiple times over a given trip).

However, events that were open to the entire school (dances, graduation ceremony, even smaller "day" trips to local areas of interest, etc.) did cost far, far less. It was much easier for the school to take an inclusive approach for a trip to local farms that cost maybe $10-$20 student. But the band was considered optional participation, and so too were it's more expensive trips.

Yeah, you are right.

But band or any other school organization -- maybe a teachable moment is to prioritize what trips students can reasonably afford (or raise through school projects) -- rather than an automatic attitude of 'entitlement'...  Poor parents...


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(RebeccaD @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:14 pm)
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 And we funded that completley through the Band Boosters (cutting, splitting, and selling firewood, among other things--imagine getting Board Approval for THAT today!).

We pay like $10 for PE clothes but you just have to ask to get a used set from the eschool. And after 3 days they all look and smell used.

our band and choir sold Christmas trees and delivered to the houses here, but the high school has a forestry program, so not only splitting wood, but building ropes courses 60 feet in the air, and planting trees out in the forest and trimming and felling some trees happens.


My youngest was senior class treasurer and in charge of planning a senior trip, but it absolutely had to include everyone or they could not do it.  I think they inherited about $5,000 from the previous class and left most of it there. They just wanted a water park trip and the closest is 5 hours away in Redding


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(Ben2World @ Jan. 23 2013, 6:27 pm)
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But band or any other school organization -- maybe a teachable moment is to prioritize what trips students can reasonably afford (or raise through school projects) -- rather than an automatic attitude of 'entitlement'...  Poor parents...

No doubt, my parents had to kick in some out-of-pocket cash to ensure I got these experiences with my peers.  I can only hope to repay them with love and support over the years.

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(TigerFan @ Jan. 23 2013, 4:59 pm)
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For you parents out there, I'm curious what kind of experiences you've had with your kids' school trips.  Do your kids' schools plan really expensive school trips?  I'm kind of floored by what my son's school seems to expect parents to pay and I'm wondering if this is the norm.

In elementary school, it was $1,000 for the kids to go to 'Space Camp' in Huntsville, Alabama.  Then in middle school, it was $1,500 for a 5-day trip to Washington, DC and a $1,700 trip to Quebec.  Now, he's a freshman in high school and the Symphony Band is planning to go to France next spring -- price tag is $4,000.

I keep hearing how these trips are such "great opportunities" but, frankly, I resent them.  Don't get me wrong -- I love to travel and we travel quite a bit as a family.  But, with the exception of space camp, these trips have been just chaperoned sighseeing tours and don't offer anything special -- except that the kids get to go with their friends.  And, basically, if you don't pay, you don't go (which just seems wrong in a public school.)

So, am I the only parent who feels this way?  If they take 100 kids to France, that's $400K!  That would buy so much equipment, instruments and guest musicians to give master classes...  I just feel like it's such a huge waste of money.  But the other parents and the band director are SOOO enthusiastic, I feel like I've got to be missing something...

Ummm, if you don't pay, you don't go ESPECIALLY if it's a public school.  The taxpayers should not pick up the tab for a sightseeing trip.  If you think the trip has no value then keep your kid at home.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(no_granola @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:48 pm)
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Ummm, if you don't pay, you don't go ESPECIALLY if it's a public school.  The taxpayers should not pick up the tab for a sightseeing trip.  If you think the trip has no value then keep your kid at home.

Scrooge!   :p


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 6:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(EastieTrekker @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:47 pm)
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(Ben2World @ Jan. 23 2013, 6:27 pm)
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But band or any other school organization -- maybe a teachable moment is to prioritize what trips students can reasonably afford (or raise through school projects) -- rather than an automatic attitude of 'entitlement'...  Poor parents...

No doubt, my parents had to kick in some out-of-pocket cash to ensure I got these experiences with my peers.  I can only hope to repay them with love and support over the years.

No problem with reasonable "out of pocket" expenses.  Just not to the tune of thousands...   :O    (I know that's not what you mean).


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 7:26 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Ben2World @ Jan. 23 2013, 6:51 pm)
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(no_granola @ Jan. 23 2013, 3:48 pm)
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Ummm, if you don't pay, you don't go ESPECIALLY if it's a public school.  The taxpayers should not pick up the tab for a sightseeing trip.  If you think the trip has no value then keep your kid at home.

Scrooge!   :p

When I get my school tax bill increase every year, after they strong arm the budget passage by saying they'll have to cut buses, my money should not be paying to send kids on field trips--not even the ones who can't afford it.  If you don't want the less fortunate kids to feel left out, then how about not planning trips that only the rich kids can afford to take?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 7:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

When my sons were in Jr. High school, the band went to Disneyland for a parade. That cost us $150 mostly for the bus rental. After fundraisers, bakesales, car washes, ect.
That was a few years ago.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 7:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For what it's worth about the only things I found worth retaining (in my mind) from school was learned on class trips. FFA, athletics and other class trips. I think school trips are very valuable.

However, our trips were at a much lower cost and less exotic. Things like local parks, historic sites, FFA National Convention, inter-state sports events. Low cost trips (not overnight) should be funded by the school, additional costs (like France or overnight stays) should be funded by either booster clubs, fundraisers or parents.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 7:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

FWIW, I do agree that out-of-country trips that cost multiple thousands of dollars seem a bit extravagant and unnecessary, especially if the kids aren't doing much beyond sightseeing.  It just seems like a school-organized international vacation.  Kids can have similarly valuable school experiences without having to travel across the globe to do it.

If it's a truly-unique learning experience that's one thing, but "they'll get to see France with their friends" is beyond the scope of what a school really needs to focus on, IMO.

Where that line gets drawn, though, is up to each individual school and set of parents.

ETA:  At the same time, if expensive optional field trips are among the biggest things to worry about in that school, consider yourself fortunate, TigerFan.  Most districts are in far worse financial straits.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 8:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

My daughter is in 6th grade and her entire class is going on a trip in a week and a half. Leave Mon morning, back Fri afternoon, ~350 mile bus trip each way. Nature talks, fun museums, "learning" activities, whatever. $600 per child, includes lunch plus ~$100 cash for bkfst and dinner.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 23 2013, 8:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, my Junior High and High School had various expensive trips, including a week in Washington DC - my parents couldn't afford them, and I remember feeling left out :(  There were some fundraising opportunities, but typically you would spend a lot of time trying to sell whatever it was and wouldn't get much money, unless you had a uber generous family/friends.  Anyway, the only trip I went on was Grad Night to Disneyland, which I paid for myself by saving my salary from my first job.

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