Oak Harbor School Board plans to fund field trips

More trips to farms, state parks and museums are on the horizon for Oak Harbor elementary school students. For the first time, the city’s school district is considering subsidizing approved field trips for all elementary schools next fall.

Last year, the district’s teaching and learning department conducted a survey to determine curriculum needs across the schools. An inequity in the number of field trips among the five elementary schools was identified.

“Everybody should have opportunities to go on academically-oriented field trips,” said Peter Szalai, director of teaching and learning.

The department is proposing to provide $8.50 per student for “district-approved, grade-specific, academic-oriented field trips.” These trips must also be the locations on the island or nearby, and Szalai said there should be enough for one field trip per grade for the year.

“We’re fortunate where we live, because we have lots of opportunities to learn out in the field, which is great,” he said.

The money would come out of the teaching and learning budget, which is levy-funded. After one year, the program will be reviewed to determine if it should continue.

Currently, elementary schools that chose to have field trips apply for grants or use PTAs to raise the money. The way in which its PTA is used is up to the discretion of each school, Szalai said, and some didn’t use the organization for fundraising and raised money for other needs.

“We felt that this is enough of a priority that we want to give every kid a similar experience and not necessarily rely on schools that make it a top priority or use its PTA in this way,” he said.

He said within the next few weeks the department would send a more finalized proposal to the board for a vote.

“We all value the importance of field trips as another way to give students the opportunity to learn.”

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