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I'm trying to find out if our public school is different than any other.

When my daughter was in 6th grade (which is elementary in our system) her class took a trip to a neighboring state to spend a week together in a skill-building learning experience. The cost of the trip was $458 plus she was required to have certain things with her such as rain boots and poncho, and specifically a duffle bag of a certain size, among other things. So obviously the trip cost more than $458 because it included the accoutrements that we had to purchase to take along.

Now she is in 7th grade (middle school) and today the children are going to the state's playhouse to see a Christmas play. The cost is $32.  The children were expected to dress up (fortunately she had some dressy-casual clothes). Plus, on the way back to school from the play, the children are stopping at a mall to eat inside the food court so they need money. They are allowed to brown bag it, but of course the kids probably all want to do the same as the others. The kids on the meal plan can go to the cafeteria and have a lunch wrapped up for them, which I think makes it obvious they are on the lunch program ansd defeats the whole purpose lunch programs started out by selling/giving students lunch tickets.

It's two weeks before Christmas. I'm shopping at good will stores for my kids because we can't afford new things. I'm cooking from scratch more than usual lately to conserve what little money we have. My DD is not on the meal plan. My DH makes enough money that we don't qualify for financial aid for any of these things. However, times are tight for us right now.

The notice sent home about this playhouse field trip actually when on to say, in so many words, that the teachers know times are tough and they thought about it but still decided despite the economy to do this trip because it was a good learning opportunity.

How nice of them to deliberate on how we should spend our money when they know times are tough!

I had such trips in school at this age. We spent an overnight in another state, visiting historic landmarks. I barely remember anything...and it did not have much impact on me at the time. What I remember most is bunking two to a bed in a hotel room, hanging out with my friends. At 12 I cared more about the clothes I was packing and how to get a hair dryer into my suitcase than the fact I was going to see John Hancock's signature. So I'm thinking these "educational opportunities" for my child are about to amount to the same.

Experiences for children are cumulative, so while I feel seeing a play is a nice thing, I don't think this one experience is going to make or break her intellectual reservoir. I think the school is asking for too much money during times that are economically difficult for everyone, plus right before a big holiday that most of these children's families celebrate?

One parent I know, her child is on the meal plan but doesn't want to be embarrassed bringing the meal with her. So her mom is giving her a $5 and telling her to go to a particular fast food place in the food court and to buy a particular menu, and then make sure she comes home with $2 ! I thought that was a little crazy, just give the kid a $5, but I guess there are homes where it's tighter than at my house. And then this mom was annoyed because her DD's teacher asked the kids to all chip in $5 so the class could buy pizza together.

Do you think the school should not have had this trip this time of year? Do you think $32 is expensive for a half-day field trip? Does your school have the same expectations for you in contributing to outside activities that cost money?

I've never heard of  a field trip costing so much. I wonder what else is coming down the pike for me to foot the bill in the future. I don't have just one kid either.

by on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:13 AM
Replies (11-20):
3gr8tKids
by Bronze Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:31 AM
I think it might be the same most everywhere. we do 6th grade camp and 8th grade we go to DC. both are very pricey.. likewise we do expensive day trips. I had a large family and always felt the pinch.
jhslove
by Bronze Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:32 AM

How much notice were you given? Was financial assistance offered for kids who didn't have the money? And what educational programming was offered for kids who stayed behind (if it was during school hours)?

Speaking as a former classroom music teacher, I think $32 is steep for a class field trip. If it's that valuable of a learning experience, then the implication is that children would miss out on something valuable by not going. I would never have planned a field trip that expensive, unless the school district were covering at least a portion of the cost.

If they wanted the kids to have the experience, many of these performance companies do school tours where they'll come and perform at the school for a fee. Either the program's operating budget covers the fee, or it can be split among the families, but it would come out to a lot less than $32 per kid if the performance were for an entire class.

When I student-taught, we did take our fifth-grade classes to see a world-famous Ghanaian drumming group downtown. The families covered the cost of the trip, but with the group rate it was far less than $32--I want to say maybe $10 or $15 per kid, and the families were given several weeks' notice so they would have time to set the money aside. Even so, this was in a fairly wealthy school district and I don't know that we would have done this in a less affluent area.

buttersworth
by Silver Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Well it was a financial burden added to things we've got going on right now. (We're moving for one). But I'm not the only one who found it burdensome. Families are sometimes embarrassed to admit it's a burden, or, won't want their child feeling ostracized by not doing what everyone else is doing (our case). As you are probably aware, sometimes the teachers use field trips as a basis for follow up assignments. This one would fall under literature.

If there isn't going to be any funding for the trip that brings the cost down, I don't think the school should do it. For public school, I think $32 is unreasonable. I think the usual $8 is more reasonable.

I wonder if you or anyone else agrees?

Quoting matofour:

You can always keep your child home. They don't have to go in the field trip.
I don't think 32 is insane. I know it's rough, but if it's going to be a financial burden. Keep her home.


867-5309
by Bronze Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:35 AM

 I do not know where you live so it is hard to say that is expensive.  My class trips are always in the $25 to $40 range and the kids are always told they have to bring lunch.  I do know that when schools buy tickets in bulk they usually get a few free ones also.  In my school you can call the teachers and let them know your financial concerns and (depending on how many people ask) you can get the free ticket or they will reduce the cost.  If not I would keep my child home :(

Claire-Huxtable
by on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:38 AM

I disagree 8 dollars is more reasonable.  Christmas productions aren't cheap.  Nor is traveling to it and back.

If you can't afford it, do not send your child.  

Quoting buttersworth:

Well it was a financial burden added to things we've got going on right now. (We're moving for one). But I'm not the only one who found it burdensome. Families are sometimes embarrassed to admit it's a burden, or, won't want their child feeling ostracized by not doing what everyone else is doing (our case). As you are probably aware, sometimes the teachers use field trips as a basis for follow up assignments. This one would fall under literature.

If there isn't going to be any funding for the trip that brings the cost down, I don't think the school should do it. For public school, I think $32 is unreasonable. I think the usual $8 is more reasonable.

I wonder if you or anyone else agrees?

Quoting matofour:

You can always keep your child home. They don't have to go in the field trip.
I don't think 32 is insane. I know it's rough, but if it's going to be a financial burden. Keep her home.



romalove
by Roma on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:39 AM
1 mom liked this

Most public schools, if you are struggling, will work with you if you can't afford the trip.

I would talk to the guidance counselor or student assistant specialist and tell them your concerns, that you don't want your child to miss out but you can't afford it, and could they see if there is any way they can waive your fee.

You may be pleasantly surprised.

IhaveHisjoy
by Silver Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:47 AM
1 mom liked this

 When my kids were in school and came home with expensive field trip letters..especially around any holiday time..I would wonder why teachers who complained about being paid so low would come up with these ideas??

I was fortunate enough to be able to afford the trip..I also would call the teacher and ask her to let me know if there was any other child in need that we could assist..no need for names, I would just send check in if needed. I didn't want any kid to miss out if I could help.

yourspecialkid
by Platinum Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:53 AM
1 mom liked this

All of our "cost" trips also say if you cannot afford it the to speak privately with the teacher because the school will cover the cost.  It was the same way when we were in Oregon.

I don't think they should have cost trips unless they have plan for those that cannot afford to pay....and the school probably knows exactly who those kids are.

My family has been very blessed financially and we really wanted more kids.  It gives me a great deal of pleasure to pay for an extra child or 2.  I would like to encourage others that can to also do this.

buttersworth
by Silver Member on Dec. 14, 2012 at 8:59 AM


Quoting jhslove:

How much notice were you given?  2 weeks. So we were able to get the money together but minus this from a bill I need to pay. Was financial assistance offered for kids who didn't have the mone y? Yes but we don't actually qualify. And what educational programming was offered for kids who stayed behind? None was mentioned. I got the feeling attendance was expected with or without financial aide.

Speaking as a former classroom music teacher, I think $32 is steep for a class field trip. If it's that valuable of a learning experience, then the implication is that children would miss out on something valuable by not going.  Yes, that's why I felt we couldn't have her miss it. I don't like her to miss any field trips, frankly. I would never have planned a field trip that expensive, unless the school district were covering at least a portion of the cost.

If they wanted the kids to have the experience, many of these performance companies do school tours where they'll come and do an abbreviated (or not) version of the performance for a fee. Either the program's operating budget covers the fee, or it can be split among the families, but it would come out to a lot less than $32 per kid if the performance were for an entire class. It's a play, performed in our state's theatre at the capitol city. I would think something as you mention could be arranged. Besides, there are plays all year round there. This is A Christmas Carol. I thought they couldn't endorse a holiday? Is that endorsing a holiday? It probably falls under literature, but they are not even studying Charles Dickens right now.

When I student-taught, we did take our fifth-grade classes to see a world-famous Ghanaian drumming group downtown. The families covered the cost of the trip, but with the group rate it was far less than $32--I want to say maybe $10 or $15 per kid, and the families were given several weeks' notice so they would have time to set the money aside. Even so, this was in a fairly wealthy school district and I don't know that we would have done this in a less affluent area.

We live in an affluent school district. There's a prestigious private school in town too; but our town is still a mix of affluence, middle class, and low income. Being a public school I would think would influence those organizing field trips to make them more affordable across the board, for differing incomes.

I'm so glad we're moving then, if this is not the norm in most school districts. We're moving to a nicer more rural town, but it just doesn't have the same "lable" of wealth that this town has.


SuperChicken
by on Dec. 14, 2012 at 9:11 AM

If you cannot afford it, talk to the teacher.   Our school sponsors the kids that can't afford to go.  When forms come home for trips they ask families that can afford it to pay for two or three spots, so the school can bring the kids with parents that can't afford it.  It's all kept confidential.     $32 doesn't sound unreasonable to me. 

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