School system to limit field trips to save money

COVINGTON - Students in the Newton County School System should expect to take fewer field trips this school year.

Due to anticipated budget cuts and high fuel costs, officials at NCSS are asking teachers to hold off on optional field trips.

"We are going to monitor field trips and currently approve only those required for instruction and athletics," said Deborah Robertson, associate superintendent for administration at NCSS.

In her August administrative services report, she said lottery pre-K trips are required for students, but the school system is working to make sure those trips are within a "limited" area.

"Athletic trips will continue, but we have asked our secondary school administrators to review those freshman and JV games that could be scheduled with teams closer to home," she said in her report. "The Curriculum and Instruction Department will be reviewing field trip requests and making recommendations on limited trips within a limited area."

She said this monitoring by the schools and school system is ongoing.

"It will be monitored to see types of field trips requests and reviewed regularly," she said. "(This is a) new territory as the downturn in the economy is requiring different thinking to help ease the economic slump."

She also said limited field trips will raise awareness about fuel conservation.

Like NCSS, Rockdale County Public Schools increased the field trip fee paid to cover fuel costs, but officials at RCPS are allowing field trips as usual for now but said that could change later this school year if fuel costs continue to increase.

Walton County Public Schools are continuing from last year to limit field trips and consolidate bus stops to save on fuel costs, Public Information Officer Kim Embry said. Social Circle City Schools Superintendent Bettye Ray said she is encouraging teachers to take advantage of local venues in the county for field trips, but is not eliminating field trips altogether. Gwinnett County Public Schools don't have any plans to limit field trips, and the Cobb County public school system reportedly raised its field trip fees to cover rising costs.

In July, Robertson reported that NCSS buses traveled almost 5 million miles during the 2007-08 school year on field trips and regular routes at an average of 9.9 miles per gallon.

The school system transportation department purchased a load of fuel in July at $3.99 per gallon for a total cost of $31,107, according to the August administrative services report.

This is a decrease of $.18 per gallon from June.

Robertson said fuel costs are "looking better," but she still anticipates a need for a midterm adjustment next year if fuel costs continue to stay high.