There is a lot of pre-planning that happens before any field trip is planned for students and brought forward for approval. The first step is to ensure that the field trip is connected to the curriculum and will enrich and deepen the learning for all students. Teachers must consider the educational value of every trip they book. Once they have identified which field trips they will pursue, the next step in planning is calculating the cost.
The cost of any field trip includes the price of admission to the venue and the cost of transporting students to the venue. This is the tricky part. For some trips, the cost is per class and for others, the price is based on the cost per student. When the cost is per class, we take the class cost and divide by the number of students there are in the class. We do the same for bussing costs. For example, we might take students to the Calgary Zoo. To take a full grade to the zoo, the total cost would be approximately $2500.00 divided by 100 students or $25.00 per child. (see below for cost break down)
Field trips are not optional. These trips are planned intentionally to increase and deepen the learning and development of your child’s understanding of the curriculum and to provide experiential opportunities for students. They are an instructional day for students and all students are expected to attend. When we plan, we assume that all families will pay for their child’s trip. All field trips costs must be approved by our district office and Alberta Education. Teachers work diligently to ensure that the field trips planned are the best value possible from both an educational and cost effective standpoint.
So what happens when families do not pay their child’s field trip cost? The school is left with the bill. The zoo does not refund us if we do not have full attendance, transportation costs are not refunded if the buses are not full.
If 10 families do not pay for the zoo field trip, that means the school is short $250. These shortfalls can add up quickly. If each grade takes 3 field trips in a year, that means the school must find $2250 to cover these costs. We do not increase the per-student field trip cost to cover the shortfall. Doing so would mean families that pay their field trip costs would be covering the lack of payment of others. We do not believe this is fair.
There are circumstances where your child may not be able to attend because of illness or family commitments. If you have chosen to excuse your child from school or take a family vacation on the day of the field trip, as a school, we are still expecting you to cover the cost. Our school calendar is posted in advance of the school year and we are expecting all students to attend school on our scheduled school days.
If your child struggles on field trips and needs additional support, we understand. The best solution is having adult family members join us as volunteers. Children love it when their parents or grandparents join us on trips. Many wonderful memories are made on these days. Teachers often know field trip dates well in advance of the actual trip. Please reach out to our teachers and ask if they have any dates booked so that you can plan your work schedule to allow you to join us.
Financially, field trips can stretch a family budget. If this is the case, we appreciate a phone call or conversation with the child’s teacher to make arrangements to assist and provide support so that, that child does not miss the opportunity.
**If a family reaches out to us and needs support, we have a number of strategies to help out and provide support and assistance. Blackfalds FCSS also has a number of programs to support town families.