Senate OKs Gallo bill allowing school committees to fund school field trips out of budget
STATE HOUSE — The Senate today passed legislation introduced by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) that would allow school committees to budget funding for school field trips.
The legislation (2020-S 2327) would guarantee that all students have the same ability to attend field trips. It would also allow schools to raise funds to supplement field trip funding.
Last year, many school districts canceled field trips in the wake of an advisory opinion given by former Commissioner of Education Dr. Ken Wagner. He construed current policy to mean that school departments may not charge students to participate in public school field trips. Since several school districts interpreted the decision to mean that no fund raising could be done for these trips either, many officials were left confused, believing that the policy effectively eliminated the field trips.
“That advice was confusing to many, and as a result, school districts have been canceling their field trips.” said Senator Gallo, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. “That is an incredibly unfortunate — and I’m quite sure unintended —consequence of the letter. The goal of this legislation is to provide clarity.”
The legislation proposed by Senator Gallo would require that the field trips meet Rhode Island’s basic education program regulations and would allow parents or guardians to donate toward the cost of the trip.
“The bill does not, however, allow schools to directly ask families for money to pay for field trips because schools can’t do that,” explained Senator Gallo. “Schools can let families know that donations are always welcome, but asking parents to contribute would create a two-tier education system — one for students who can afford to pay for valuable experiences like field trips, and one for students who can’t. That is not what public education is about. Students who sit next to each other in a public school classroom should have the same opportunities available to them.”
The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, which has passed similar legislation (2020-H 7069A) introduced by Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston).
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903