Board Questions Student Trips

WINNSBORO (June 30, 2016) – Field trips and senior trips were once again on the Fairfield County School Board’s agenda earlier this month with some Board members arguing against the District sponsoring the trips.

Dr. Claudia Edwards, Deputy Superintendent of Academics, first asked the Board to approve a field trip to England in 2017 for the high school’s Early College Academy, so the students could experience real-life applications of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) concepts. Edwards said the trip would cost $3,635 per student.

According to Edwards, a payment plan will be offered for both students and adults who take the trip.

“Does that (the payment plan) mean the students will be paying for this trip, the entire trip?” Board member William Frick (District 6) asked.

Edwards said the students are planning to have fundraisers to help offset the cost of the trip. District Superintendent Dr. J.R. Green added that the Board is only being asked to approve the trip so that students can begin fundraising and collecting money.

“No one is requesting any funding of the Board,” Green said. “We are simply approving the trip, which gives the students the opportunity to begin fundraising and making payments on the trip. So if there is a question about whether the Board will be accepting (financial) responsibility for sending these students abroad, the answer to that is no.”

The trip was approved 6-0, with Board member Annie McDaniel (District 4) abstaining.

Similarly, the Board was asked to approve two senior trip options for the 2017 graduating class of Fairfield Central High School – a cruise to the Bahamas and a Grad Bash in Orlando, Fla.

Again, it was made clear to the Board that only Board approval for the trip was being requested; the students would be responsible for coming up with the money.

“We have been discussing this for a couple of years . . . about getting away from sponsoring this,” Frick said. “When we attach our name to it we assume responsibility – why are we still doing this?”

Green said he had some conversations with the senior class members several years ago, and the consensus was that if the school didn’t sponsor it, it wouldn’t happen. The students felt they could not get enough support to organize the trip on their own

Board Vice-Chair Carl Jackson Jr. (District 5) and Board member Henry Miller (District 3) also expressed concern about the school being involved and liable for the students’ welfare. Despite these misgivings, the trip was approved 5-1-1, with Board Charwoman Beth Reid (District 7) voting no because she also believed that “we should get out of the student trip business.”

New Grading Policy

The Board approved the second and final reading for the new grading policy required by state rules.

The new grading policy, adopted by the State Board of Education in April, implements a 10-point grading scale for students in grades one through 12, effective for the 2016-17 school year. For example, students entering ninth grade will start on the 10-point grading scale; at that point a “90” will be considered an “A.” Previously, under the seven-point grading scale, a student had to score a 93 in order to receive an “A” grade.