Pasco school district revises field trip guidelines
It's not as if Pasco County students have taken many field trips recently.
From January through May, the School Board approved 63 trips -- almost entirely for high school clubs, and with few exceptions paid for with student contributions.
That doesn't diminish district leaders' desires to support visits to museums and other educational sites. It does, however, highlight the need to rewrite long ignored rules for organizing and executing the outings.
"We're happy for teachers to go on field trips," area superintendent David Scanga told the Gradebook. "We just want it to be well planned."
After years sitting on a shelf, the district guidelines got a fresh look over the past few months from a group of educators, and they're now in the final phases of updating the 26-page document. Key to the process is focusing the district philosophy, which Scanga said must remain education.
"Field trips," the draft guidelines state, "are valuable experiences that allow for students to engage in relevant interactions related to the Florida Standards. Hands-on learning provides opportunities for students to link their classroom learning and understanding with outside experiences. Through these extension activities, students can make personal connections to the content. Additionally, field trips provide ways to involve parents and the community in the instructional program."
It stresses that the trips must be planned in advance, tied to the lesson standards and advance the classroom activities. They also should be age-appropriate, culturally sensitive and accessible to all regardless of financial background. Contests, conferences and college visits also fall in the realm of the acceptable.
Celebration field trips to entertainment destinations are okay, Scanga said, but as exceptions such as fifth grade promotion parties, and not as the norm. "Controversial venues" and water parks are frowned upon. In almost every instance, the principal's decision rules.
The committee work complete, the proposal has gone to schools for input and ideas. What are your thoughts about field trips? Are they just as important as recess?