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Board votes to end McCormick's field trip -- for now

Friday, October 22, 2010

BAINBRIDGE -- Members of the North Putnam Community School Corporation School Board passed a motion to discontinue the annual sixth grade McCormick's Creek State Park field trip on the grounds with the option to bring it back at a later date at its meeting Thursday evening.

Superintendent Mary Sugg Lovejoy presented the board with a list outlining parents' concerns with trip to Spencer, among which included the added $800 expense of paying for criminal history tests of volunteer chaperones who decide not to attend at the last minute before replacements can be found.

Lovejoy also said some parents expressed concern over the fact that fewer certified staff members district-wide are available to attend, while others did not feel comfortable going on difficult hikes.

She also highlighted some of its benefits, among which were the physical preparation leading up to the trip's hikes and the ecological lessons available in the natural environment.

Board member Mark Hoke echoed the apprehension about the recent cut in certified staff, also noting that if the only school nurse available to the district went on the trip, back-up health aides would be on-hand for the rest of the schools for the trip's duration.

The board passed the motion 6-1, with Hoke opposing.

School bus safety issues were also addressed at the meeting.

Brittany Harman, a parent from Russellville, expressed concern about a bus stop two blocks away from her home. She said a child walking to the stop was recently bitten by a coyote, and with hills presenting a limited view and cornfields being the only place to escape, the district should do something to remedy the problem.

Board member Jon Buser agreed.

"This should be a high priority," he said.

Emsweller said the district is looking into addressing the issue.

Another parent went before the board about another bus safety issue, making reference to a driver who recently drove off without a student who was running after the bus.

"The problem has been addressed, and the driver knows the issue won't come up again," Lovejoy said.

Lovejoy also said some parents were concerned with bullying and behavior on bus rides, and noted that part of the district-wide Olweus Bullying Program has a "Peaceful School Bus" section that will cover bus bullying prevention strategies.

Bainbridge Elementary School counselor Kirstie McClamroch notified the board that next week is School Bus Safety Week, and suggested that training from both bus riders and drivers would be beneficial.

"Training on both ends would be helpful," she said.

Assistant superintendent Kevin Emsweller also presented the board with information about an online survey about attendance center recommendations that will be available on the district's website through the Harmony portal.

According to the survey's homepage, benefits of the attendance centers would "create more efficient use of resources," "provide more equity in programming" and "increase teacher opportunities to work together for students," among others. Consequences would include moving students to a different building, losing the influence of older students on younger students and possibly increase transportation time to and from school.

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I am VERY disappointed about the McCormick's Creek trip as my son was very much looking forward to it next year. Thanks, Mark, for voting against it. I just don't understand....if parents are against it, their children do NOT have to attend. The trip is NOT mandatory!!!! I am so upset that so many parents and kids who love the trip now are not able to do this together because a handful of parents are not happy.....SAD! Thank you to all of the 6th grade teachers who have put so much work and time into planning this for so many years! We appreciate you! :)

-- Posted by John3:16 on Sat, Oct 23, 2010, at 8:26 AM

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