Board OKs trip funding

Published 11:00 pm Monday, February 27, 2012

A group of Charles Henderson Middle School eighth-graders will receive school board funding to assist with a trip to Boston this spring.

The board voted 4-1 to authorize $1,800 to be spent to assist the students with the cost of charter buses to transport the 19 students, 12 parents and one teacher chaperone to and from the Birmingham airport for their planned trip.

“These are honor students who have worked very hard to raise money for this trip,” Superintendent Lee Hicks told the board in recommending the expenditure. “And $1,800 is a very minimal cost in the scheme of things … I feel like these kids will learn more on this trip than in a whole year sitting in the classroom.”

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The extracurricular trip is coordinated by Trent Givens, history teacher, who explained that students will have the opportunity to visit and experience many historical sites while in Boston, including Boston Commons; Beacon Hill, Salem, Mass.; the site of the Boston Massacre; and several Revolutionary War battle sites. “I really believe experiencing history … enhances education.”

Roxie Kitchens, school board president, was the only member to vote against the funding .’I have a concern because if we do pay this money then every trip that comes up we will be asked to contribute to,” she said. “With teachers being turned down for things … I just don’t feel we should do this.”

Dr. Judson Edwards, vice president of the school board, suggested that the board address the precedent-setting concern in another way. “If you’re going to set a precedent … why not provide the schools funds in the budget each year for the principals to decide how to spend …

“To me it’s a budgetary item and you need to look at it on an annual basis if you feel it’s important for students to do this then figure out how much you can afford and budget it in.”

Hicks said after the meeting his focus is on expenditures that will benefit the students. “We’re spending money on technology, on providing students what they need to be successful and our new buildings,” he said. “We never want to lose sight of why we’re in this business and that’s the children.”

In addition to the funding for the trip, the board members on Monday:

• Approved 10 personnel items, including retirements of Sherri Drinkard and Elizabeth Jennings at Troy Elementary; the resignation of Jessica Rowell at Troy Elementary, of Brad Rhodes and Ian Campbell at Charles Henderson High School, Phyllis Wilson (Global Studies facilitator) at the Troy Pike Center for Technoloy and Dr. Linda Felton-Smith, consultant (effective March 30); leaves of absence for Kira Aaron and Rene Donaldson at CHHS; and the hiring of Gregg Baker at CHHS. Smith, the former superintendent, was on contract as a consultant until June 30, 2012, but is resigning to take a position with the state department of education.

• Approved the accounting procedures for the Central Office finance and local schools.

• Approved policies and procedures to bring the schools into compliance with Alabama’s immigration law regarding vendors, contracts and employment.