Do Parent Volunteers Have to Pay to Go on Field Trips at Your Child\'s School?

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 9:56am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This is PA related.

This is my PA son's fifth year of school. We have a written school plan, which is not being used at his school this year (because of the principal) that requires a "parent designated helper" accompany my PA son on all of his field trips.

In JK and SK, surprisingly for some of you, I let the teacher be the parent designated helper. She really "got it" and I was told I couldn't take my younger daughter with me (oh, but if I knew then what I know now). In Grades 1 and 2, either my son's Father or I went with him. A couple of times last year, on outings where I would be completely useless (yes, a Canadian that does not skate [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ), I asked the parents of the TNA child in Jesse's class if he could be in their group.

Because my non-PA daughter has always seen me go on field trips with her brother (or since she has been in school), she really wants me to accompany her on all of her field trips as well. (I have another question to raise re this, but don't require input right now so it can wait since my computer time is limited).


This year, my daughter has had two field trips already. Both children have an upcoming field trip on the same day to see the same thing (person, actually) at the beginning of November month.

Most of the field trips that my children have gone on, you have had to pay. Now, under The Ministry of Education Act in Ontario, should I care to, I could fight this. A parent does not have to pay for field trips or even school supplies. But since I have what I consider one *issue* to deal with with the school, I've never tried to fight with them re the Ministry of Education Act and not having to pay for field trips or school supplies. I understand that the schools are cash strapped.

The particular school that my children are now in requires that the volunteers also pay to attend field trips. A couple of weeks ago, I paid $4.50 to go to an apple orchard with my daughter.

I actually think it's ridiculous to ask that parents who volunteer their time and effort to watch not only their child but other children be asked to pay. But here's the bottom line question.

When my PA son has a field trip and I have to be his parent designated helper (since I don't trust his teacher, school, etc.), should I simply pay or bring PA into the mix?

The trip that both children are going on is $6.00 for each child plus then $6.00 for me, and what, $6.00 for me twice if I go with my daughter in the afternoon?

I've just never come across a school that charges volunteers to go on field trips. Certainly in one respect I can understand where the school is coming from (they're doing great fundraising) but especially when I know that under Ontario's Ministry of Education Act I could put up a fuss and not pay a cent for either child, never mind myself, I'm getting a bit put out.

Oh, and this probably wouldn't even be a question for me if money was not tight. My friend who did choose to fight the school each and every year of his children's public school career was in the financial position to pay but took the school/board on because of the principle. I would do this actually if I didn't have PA as an *issue* already.

So, do I pay to be my PA son's parent designated helper at a school that I don't trust anyone to be with him other than me?

My gut tells me I should be fighting the fight regardless of my financial position and the PA *issue* because *normally* it is something I would address with the school, especially since it is against the Ministry of Education Act and I feel as though I'm being bled dry for stupidity (in some cases - the $4.50 for the apple orchard).

But, given the fact that I have a principal that is not dealing with PA or even looking at my PA son's written school plan, do I just pay and forget it?

Or given that, do I fight just to tick him off further?

Basic question - do parent volunteers pay to go on field trips at your child's school? What do you think about this?

Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 10:55am
momma2boys's picture
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Joined: 03/14/2003 - 09:00

At our school the PTO (which I am one of only 3 members!) pays for all the expenses at field trips. No parent volunteers pay a thing.
That being said , we also can only afford to send them on one end of the year field trip. Most of our students are so poor that none of them would be able to pay to go if asked.
I also know that from setting up and paying for field trips and running fundraisers ( I am pto treasurer so I do both) that we dont raise a lot of money, and it always costs more for the adult to go on trips.
So that being said, you could fight it, but if everyone fights it they may just stop the field trips. I think its great that they get the opportunity to go on so many. I know our students would love to do things like that but we just cant afford it. Typically it costs more for busing than the actual trip.
As far as the fact that you are going because you are required to re: pa, they may waive that charge.
What happens if a student cant pay? Do they have to stay back or does the school pay?

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 11:47am
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Alternative to Mainstream:
[b]When my PA son has a field trip and I have to be his parent designated helper (since I don't trust his teacher, school, etc.), should I simply pay or bring PA into the mix?
[/b]
too focused on this to answer the original question. Field Trips aside, I am drawn to what appears to be a larger issue. The [i]school itself[/i]. It would seem that if one was compelled to attend Field Trips "because I don't trust his teacher, school, etc.".... a parallel dilemma might exist during the school day.
Does the same circumstance exist with regards to school day, Field Trips aside: ie: "I don't trust his teacher, school, etc."? *Personally speaking* and only with regards to my own personal, individual and highly unique situation, [i]it was an issue for me[/i], in my son's situation.

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 12:12pm
randgmom's picture
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Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

My children's principal and JK teacher told me, when we were discussing PA protocol for field trips last week, that parents do not have to pay for any school trips they are accompanying their children on, as the teachers can always use the help. They really emphasized this, saying the more parents they had helping the better for them. Which is really smart of them; I give them full marks for this approach, especially with JKers.
So, whoohoo, a free trip to the pumpkin patch ON A SCHOOL BUS (big thrill for the kids).
Hopefully your school twigs to the fact that the more adult bodies around, the more supervision there is for the kids. And the less chance for accidents, AWOL kids, etc.
Good luck!

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 1:27pm
anonymous's picture
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Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Although we've only had one school trip thus far this year - the parent volunteers are not expected to pay to attend, although there was a nominal fee for the kids (couple of bucks) to each be able to bring home a pumpkin.
I think you should run for parent council as a ways and means around this principal who seems to be running loose in the school yard, and needs some reigning in - he's marching to his own beat that seems to go against what others schools are doing....
and certainly against the safety of the children - volunteers are a support element -not a corporate overhead cost to be made to pay for their volunteering.

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 1:50pm
becca's picture
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Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Our field trip to the apple orchard required $3 for dd and $5 for me. Mind you we had the same exact bag for our apples, and I was needed to drive some children, not just for the allergy issue. I believe we pay if the place charges. I suppose I could have declined to pick my own apples, but I wanted them.
I believe all other field trips have been free for us, except one where I did not go(a food free museum 5 mins from home). There, I believe the entire trip allowed for a certain # of adults included in a lump fee paid.
When I said free(silly edit troubles) I mean the trip was free for all, like the fire station or a grocery store for some(we did not do that in our class). becca

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 1:58pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

momma2boys, I completely understand what you are saying. Yes, the children are very fortunate to be able to go on so many field trips and certainly someone has to pay for them. I guess, for me, aside from looking at it from a PA perspective, I'm also looking at it from the perspective of what our Ministry of Education Act says and how we, as parents of children in the public school system in Ontario do not have to supply even a pencil for them at the beginning of the school year.
Having said that, I have always received the list of supplies that each child is given to start their next grade and filled it completely. But I could argue the point as my lawyer friend did.
When Jesse was in JK, they had winter activity month and although all of the activities didn't have to do with winter, it was something that was done every Tuesday say for a month. This included skiing, skating, computer, ceramics, outdoor survival.
This was Jesse's first year of school and I was pleased enough that I had had my wit's about me to get him through the door of the school and into a "peanut free" classroom. I didn't have a computer, didn't know any other PA parents and was basically really isolated and not as knowledgeable as I am to-day (which is okay).
The school called the night before the computer class was to start to tell me that they didn't feel safe with Jesse going to an outside environment. My wee guy had really been looking forward to computer class. He said, "that's alright, Mama". The computer classes were say $10.00. I had to go with the only alternative, the ceramics class for $45.00.
Again, had I known what I know now then.....
Jesse had the *right* to go to the computer class regardless of it's location. I was a single parent at the time and very hard pressed for cash, but I still managed to pay the $45.00. (This story does have a point).
A friend of mine, with three children in school cried poverty when she was not in dire straights financially regarding these same winter activities. And she ended up paying nothing. I didn't think it was fair of her not to pay, but now I realize that the school didn't argue with her because aside from probably feeling sorry for her, payment for the winter activities was again, contrary to The Ministry of Education Act in Ontario.
Last year, Jesse's teacher wrote the names on the board of children who had misbehaved during the day. She also wrote the names on the board of children who had not yet paid for their field trip. I was absolutely horrified. What if the child couldn't afford to pay? How would a 7 year old child feel to see their name on the board because he hadn't paid for his field trip yet? And what if he never could? I thought it was a disgusting practice.
I had I think one time last year when a field trip came up where I didn't actually have the money right for that day (student loan living is so much fun - not [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/rolleyes.gif[/img] ) and I spoke with the teacher and told her what day I would be paying. She was okay with that.
I don't know what other parents who don't have the money do. I don't know if they feel strong enough in the school community to go to the principal or teacher and say, hey, I don't have the cash right now or I'm never going to have the cash. I feel really really badly for people who may not have a voice in all of this. My guess is that they probably keep their child home and that saddens me, because again, in Ontario, their child does not have to stay home, but the parent does have to know the Ministry of Education Act.
Momma Bear, I completely understand what you're saying. What makes field trips any different than Jesse attending this school with the same people on a daily basis? I don't think I could ever explain it so that you could understand, but I'm not the type of person that could homeschool and although my stress level has been greatly increased this year, I just walk my kids to school each morning, kiss them, tell Jesse to "stay safe" and somehow try to get through my day.
There hasn't been a PA related incident at the school this year yet, touch wood, Jesse is a responsible child who takes *ownership* of his allergy really well and his Epi-belt is strapped tightly onto him each morning.
Syd's Mom, yes, it does have something to do with the wacko principal I'm sure. This is the first school I have seen this done at - where parent volunteers are expected to pay.
Volunteering in the past was always presented the way rgandmom (?, sorry, can't remember this late how to spell your UserName, I am so sorry [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/redface.gif[/img] ) outlined it. The more adults the better, the safer, more ease, etc.
But me run for Parent Council? Dear woman, I am so NOT the Parent Council *type* (momma2boys, I don't mean anything disparaging about Parent Council people, probably really putting myself down). The school community that we are now in and have been for nearly two months now, I have yet to have one parent speak with me on the school yard. All the Moms that come after school that do speak together are different than the popular *clique* from last year's school (last year's school you had to be blonde to be one of *the* Mom's). This year, everyone seems to have their hair streaked in multi-tones and we'll let's just say that I would not fit in.
Jesse's music teacher from Grade 1 has children at this school and her daughter is actually in my daughter's class. One night after school she overheard a discussion I was having with Jesse about why (again) we couldn't stay in that particular playground and play after school (the eating on the playground thing, greater chance of peanut residue) and she said that I really should approach Parent Council (who made the decision with the approval of the principal to let the children eat their snacks on the playground) because I had a very legitimate reason for not wanting food on the playground. She thought that I had a valid reason to approach Parent Council.
I did attend a Parent Council meeting once when I was Stuck in Stayner and I felt very out of place. I was also ignored even though the principal had asked me to come and speak about something to do with PA.
No, this principal is interesting to say the least and he does run his school very differently than what I have experienced for the past four years. As I say, this is the first time I have ever seen parent volunteers being told right on the permission sheet that you have to pay as well.
Many thanks and best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 2:08pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

becca, I paid $4.50 for the apple orchard trip for myself and $4.50 for Ember and I didn't come home with any apples! Each child got to pick three which the class got to keep as a group. But we never got to bring any home!
Also, we have yet to be charged for any trips that don't involve a bus like the grocery store (did that with Ember last year) or The Farmer's Market downtown.
I'm bewildered and have to get to bed. I have two children who decided to sign up for choir meaning they have to get to school 45 minutes earlier, which is okay for me since I get up at the same time each morning, but I did hear very vocal complaints from both children tonight when they were reminded of what time they have to get up in the morning (one was that I was forcing the child to go to choir which I couldn't figure out because said child signed himself/herself up for choir, I didn't and the other one just started screaming that he/she hates choir and doesn't want to go - both children who came home last Wednesday all excited because they will be performing in a Christmas concert, go figure), so I have a "c'mon, it's time to get up" battle on my hands in the morning and have to be fresh (or as fresh as this aged one gets [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img] ).
Best wishes! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]
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Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 4:03pm
cynde's picture
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Joined: 12/10/2002 - 09:00

Cindy, this is one of my pet peeves. Parent volunteers who are asked to pay to supervise other children on field trips. I butted heads with our principal a couple of years ago over it, but as far as I know our school does not charge parents anymore.
The particular F/T that I had a real problem with was one of our local pumpkin patches, they insisted on the parent volunteers paying $5.00 to attend with the students. I told the teacher that I could drive (we never seem to get buses) so I ended up with 5 kids (including one with behavior problems) to keep track of, help carry pumpkins, then load into my van without getting mud everywhere.
I told the principal that I won't pay for the priviledge of using my van, my gas and my time to take other children on F/T's.
She got in my face about me not understanding what volunteerism is all about, but that argument didn't get very far since I spend way more time volunteering at that school than any other parent and she knows it. I told her volunteering meant time, not money, and I was more than willing to "volunteer".
My suggestion to her was that we not attend events that insist on parent supervisors paying, or the students all share the costs of the parents that have to drive them. That way all families are paying the same, not the families that donate time pay more.
I hope this all makes sense, I'm very tired and as I said this is a touchy subject with me.

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 7:06pm
StaceyK's picture
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Joined: 05/06/2003 - 09:00

At my daughter's preschool, each child and parent must pay the fee. Sometimes there are as many parents as children, so if the school did not have this policy, it could get very expensive for them. Parental attendance is voluntary.

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2003 - 10:43pm
MommaBear's picture
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Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Is sounds as if "Parent Volunteerism" requires parents to act "in lieu" of staff? Sounds even more dicey than issues surrounding "homebaked goods". [i]shudder[/i].
That being said, I went on a fielt trip with my younger cub's early education class. 3- 4 PA children total out of 10 kids (My younger cub does not have a diagnosis of PA from his physician. He does "register" on a blood test,and a history of injesting PB in a candy with no visible reaction (by accident, as it was our intention to keep him "Peanut Free" for as long as possible given the family history of PA.) 4-5 children, if you count the fact that my PA/NUTS/Asthma (pretty much symptom free now........ even after attending a field trip involving a farm) cub attended as a paying "invited guest" with us.
(Still wondering about "criteria" for diagnosing PA, still wondering what *my* blood test might reveal, just how much does a blood test reveal anyway?) All parents were invited. All parents required to pay. Not all parents came. As I understand it we were "invited guests". I did not observe any parents "in charge" of children other than their own. No one was asked to drive other children. A bus was provided, but you could bring your own child and any other "guests" (siblings, grandparents, etc.......), providing you pay.
Do schools in the US have anything similiar to "ministry of ontario" regarding volunteerism and not having to pay? Tend to believe that most of the time the requirement of money is waived, it is exchanged for some other responsibility.
*Now*........ although I was not Officially given any duties from the school itselt wrt monitoring children, [i]I am a Licensed, Registered Nurse with Critical Care experience[/i]. I *personally believe* that whether I want it or not........ [i]I have some degree of responsibility[/i]. As far as I know, there was no school nurse on the trip. He!!, don't even know who all the PA children are, but had some suspicions given the fanny packs some parents were wearing. Guess I could have asked. I could have chose to stay home with my cubs, but didn't. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
edit to add: This was a "Preschool" Early Childhood Class field trip.
[This message has been edited by MommaBear (edited October 22, 2003).]

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