New field trip policies adapt for overnight trips

Ella Vick, staff writer

For the 2022-2023 school year, South students will see changes in overnight field trip policies, Principal Dr. Barbara Georges said. The new policies will focus on improving student experiences on these trips, she explained.

Mark Maranto, Assistant Principal of Student Activities, said that in these new policies, the Board of Education will pay for transportation and lodging for field trips of certain specificities: state and national competitions are funded from the school building budget, and conferences are funded by the programs they are associated with or by student families. 

“The Board of Education offers generous support to those educational experiences beyond the classroom,” Maranto said. “The policy drills down into specifics on where funding occurs for which type of trip.”

Before the changes, student groups faced issues with inconsistent traveling costs and discrepancies in the mode of transportation, Georges said. She explained that by adding the new guidelines, there will now be extra clarity about the amount of financial support and the transportation certain trips receive. 

“[Depending on the trip], the Board [of Education] will support either all or a certain percentage of the costs involved, whether that’s the transportation costs, the lodging costs, etc,” Georges said. “The board’s viewpoint was that they wanted to ensure all students [were given] a more reasonable cost to participate [in overnight field trips], so [they] made a commitment in a new policy.”

The precedent of two people per room will remain, originally instituted when the pandemic was worse and human proximity was a glaring concern, Georges said. Also, an administrator may allow for a coach bus instead of the traditional school bus company for longer trips, she added.

“For longer trips or trips where an administrator determines weather concerns, [South will] support a coach bus instead,” Georges said. “[Coach buses have] more professional drivers, they’re more comfortable vehicles, and sometimes there’s a bathroom on board.”

Maranto said that members of both the District 225 Board of Education and the District Administrators have been receptive to any suggestions to make the field trip experience for students as enjoyable as possible. 

“The District Administration in partnership with the Board of Education and building administrators are undertaking a review of all policies,” Maranto said. “The district has been incredibly open and receptive to discussions about how the new policy implementation plays out in actual practice.”