‘It just isn’t OK’
RIVERSIDE—The Highland school board approved a trip proposal to Walt Disney World next spring for the band, choir, and fine arts department on Monday, Aug 12. The approval didn’t come without opposition to the trip.
Vocal music director Jennifer Wagner spoke to the school board about the trip to Walt Disney World. She presented a tentative travel plan from Sunshine Travel. Students would leave on March 27, and would return on April 2.
The estimated cost of the trip is currently $995 but this is the high bid, Wagner said.
“Things are getting pricy,” Wagner said. “This is a really good price for what we’re getting.”
The price could go down depending on the number of students who plan to attend. The trip would be open to students in high school and attendance would be optional, Wagner said.
“As far as a workshop or performance, we of course never know if we can do a performance until the kids put down their first payment,” Wagner said, “and then we see who is able to go and at that point we decide.”
If the decision were made not to perform, Disney World has a clinic that focuses on careers in music and fine arts, Wagner said. Students would learn how to add music to movies, how to light a musical, play, or concert, and other opportunities.
School board member Mike Golden asked Wagner what has happened in the past with students who wanted to go on the trip but couldn’t afford it. Wagner said there were fundraising opportunities the student could participate in.
The music boosters have fundraisers, such as selling wreaths, throughout the year they have done to assist those students, Wagner said. In the past the music boosters have paid $250 for students to go on the trip, she said.
“But we tell the kids, ‘Don’t expect anything,’ ” she said. “Don’t go into this thinking, ‘Well the boosters gives us such and such.’ Don’t think that way or you might be getting a surprise. It might not be as much or anything at all, so don’t have those expectations.”
There were some parents who attended the meeting who were opposed to the trip.
“Personally, for me, my main concern is the children who are going to get left out because they can’t come up with the money and you can bet that’s going to happen,” said Michelle Miller. “I could give you names now of kids who know they aren’t going to be able to go because of multiple children in the same family, and they just can’t come up with the cash.”
Miller said she liked the idea of moving trips to every four years instead of every two, which is what is currently happening.
“But to have a child not go because they can’t afford it is not OK,” Miller said. “It just isn’t OK.”
She said she didn’t agree with the term “optional” because classes were involved in the trip, primarily choir and band.
“The expense to me is just not doable,” Miller said. “There’s so many other things we could do closer to home like Branson and Kansas City that would be a better use of our money and with less academic days missing.”
School board at-large member Nick Smith agreed with Miller.
“How can the school sponsor an optional trip?” Smith said. “If it’s a school-sponsored trip, then why aren’t we paying for it? If this were for the football team, do you think kids would be left behind? I don’t think so.”
School board president Mike Roberts reminded Smith that Wagner was just presenting the proposal for the trip. Roberts also said the school board had to approve it because students were traveling outside of the state.
A motion was made to approve the trip proposal. It passed 6-to-1 with Smith being the only dissenting vote. Smith then counter motioned, saying the school should pay for each student to go to Walt Disney World, and his motion didn’t pass. He was the only vote for the motion.
The board won’t know until early next month if the band and choir will be going to Walt Disney World because it depended upon how many students are able to go, Wagner said.
Other items covered at the school board meeting were:
approving the raising of the bus fee from $10.50 an hour per bus driver to $12 for a school trip outside of the district;
and approving a 28E agreement with Lone Tree Community School District to have Highland students bused to Lone Tree to participate in its agriculture program.
The next school board meeting will be held on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.