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FOUNTAIN VALLEY : Principals to Decide Camping Trip Fate

The fate of a popular science-oriented camping trip for fifth-grade students rests with the principals of the district’s eight elementary schools, parents were told last week.

The popular program is expensive and some parents are having trouble affording the $238 cost of sending their children on the weeklong field trip to the San Bernardino Mountains. More than 500 students participate in the program each year.

Supt. Ruben L. Ingram told parents at last week’s school board meeting that the program is not part of the adopted curriculum and it is up to each school to either participate in the program or discontinue it.

Some schools are considering eliminating the program because of the financial burden on both the school and the parents of children who go on the trips.

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Parent organizations and students hold fund-raisers to help defray the expense and cover the cost for needy students, Ingram said. But Ingram said the cost for some parents has become unaffordable and money from fund raising has dwindled.

Last week, trustees adopted a policy requiring that no student can be denied the opportunity to participate in the program because he or she cannot afford to pay for the trip.

Ingram said state law guarantees that all students are given the opportunity to attend the field trips. Ingram said if there is no parent support, principals have a legitimate reason for discontinuing the camp program.

Some parents who recently addressed trustees favored their school keeping outdoor education because they believe it is a positive learning experience. But others believe that the money raised for the program could be better spent on other student needs.

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Most of the eight schools are considering dropping the program next year, district officials said.

However, Patty Berger, Parents-Teachers Assn. co-president at Roch Courreges Elementary School, said plans are to continue with the program next year at that school.

“It’s a wonderful program and a great opportunity for children to learn what they’ve been studying about,” said Berger, adding that the “PTA does put money aside for children who can’t afford to pay.”


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