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Costs curtail school field trips: Brunswick County will re-evaluate after the first semester

By Jason M. Rodriguez

MCT REGIONAL NEWS

The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Sep. 5—Field trips, at least through the end of the calendar year, have hit a road block in Brunswick County schools as administrators encourage teachers to look toward technology for their out-of-school experiences.

Gas prices are crippling the childhood tradition for students throughout the school system with very little exception.

“We hate that it has come down to this, but we need our schools to look at other options,” said Faye Nelson, who, along with Deanne Meadows, serve as executive directors of instructional and accountability services. Before the superintendent would consider a field trip, Nelson and Meadows must approve it.

A moratorium on field trips is in effect until the end of the semester, when school officials can review fuel prices and determine whether any trips can be taken by the end of the year.

Nelson said a decision has been made to not even allow trips if organizations volunteer to pay for it or if students raise the money themselves.

“In order to be fair to everybody, we said no trips,” Nelson said.

Steve Miley, director of operations for the school system, said extracurricular trips that are required through membership in a conference, such as sports and band, are exempt from the moratorium. He said the decision was made in the summer, when diesel fuel prices hovered in the $4 range. Now that fuel prices are sinking a bit, it's still too early to tell how the second semester field trips will be affected.

“We're kind of in a wait-and-see mode,” Miley said. “As time progresses, if we see any movement in the fuel or oil prices, then we'll revisit the issue.”

The only field trip that was planned well enough in advance was a “Heritage Days” field trip that fourth-graders take, Nelson said.

In years past, each grade level was limited to two field trips per year.

Nelson said that until a decision is made on field trips later in the year, teachers will turn to technology and in-class presenters as a way to keep the flavor of off-campus experiences.

“We don't want them to lose the educational value of it,” she said.

As for whether traditional field trips have seen their final days in Brunswick County, Nelson said it comes down to a matter of priorities.

“You hate to think about it, but our first priority is to bus students to and from school every day,” she said. “That's going to have to take priority over these extras. Only time will tell, and hopefully we'll be able to approve some field trips at the end of this 1 / 8school 3 / 8 year.”

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 910-754-9868. AMX-2008-09-05T10:35:00-04:00

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