One of the venerable experiences of childhood–the school field trip–drew fire Monday at the Morris School District board meeting.
With 1,150 of them scheduled for this academic year, class trips have become a little too venerable, according to board Vice President Peter Gallerstein.
“These are excessive days away from school, and excessive, excessive, excessive expenses,” said Peter, adding that if forced to make an all-or-nothing choice, he would opt for no field trips at all.
“It’s like a virus, and it’s getting worse,” he said.
That sentiment was not widely shared by his fellow board members, who approved the field trips.
“I think there is great educational value in them,” board President Nancy Bangiola said.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to experience the world in a different way… I don’t think kids can sit day after day at a desk and link what they are learning to the real world.”
The total cost was not immediately available. It does not vary much from year to year, according to District Superintendent Thomas Ficarra.
Field trips were the purview of school principals until three years ago, the Superintendent said. Now, the state requires boards of education to approve them.
The Morris District board, which represents 10 schools serving about 5,000 pupils in Morristown, Morris Township and Morris Plains, opted to approve proposed field trips en masse early in the school year, rather than doing it piecemeal.
Many of these trips never happen, said the Superintendent, explaining that some are requested in anticipation of athletic-, academic or musical ceremonies or performances that don’t pan out.
The tally also includes free trips, he said. Music classes, for instance, sometimes walk to the Morristown United Methodist Church to hear lunchtime concerts by seasoned musicians.
What caught Peter’s eye was a proposed visit by a Morristown High School Italian class to Eataly, an Italian food- and wine store in New York.
“There is no reason to bus 50 students into Manhattan at great expense…to a place that is less Italian in nature than one of our local pizza places,” Peter said.
Superintendent Ficarra said he would examine that trip.
In other business, board member Leonard Posey spoke warmly of Joseph Adamsky III, who died last week at age 60. The Morris Township resident was a former president of the high school’s football boosters, and coached in the Morristown National Little League, Leonard said.