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SWR seniors headed to Washington D.C., not Disney World

Seniors at Shoreham-Wading River High School will board buses later this year and head south for their senior trip.

But rather than head to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. like past years, this graduating class will spend three days and two nights in Washington D.C.

In a letter to parents shared on the district’s Facebook page, Superintendent Gerard Poole said the cost for the trip would largely be absorbed by students — estimated around $600 per student based on the number of participants — with the district funding the educational portion, such as museum passes. The district’s contribution will not exceed $2,800.

“As a district, we are focused on creating an enriched academic experience for our students, both within and beyond the classroom,” he said.

The trip, scheduled for late May and early June, was chosen by students, with the support of the class advisor and the administration, Mr. Poole said.

Shoreham Wading-River also sponsors a trip to Washington D.C. for the eighth grade class annually, but it began when the class of 2018 were freshmen in high school.

“Instead of eliminating a senior academic field experience for this class and other classes to follow, the district is looking to have this new model serve as the basis for all future senior field experiences; that is, the trip would be academically based and the destinations would be one with significant historical importance, aligned to the high school social studies curriculum, with only the academic portion funded by the district,” Mr. Poole said.

With that in mind, the district has chosen Boston as the destination for the graduating class of 2019’s senior trip.

The decision to change the location of the senior trip came after the district faced backlash over its decision to fund the entirety of the Disney trip for the 2017 seniors.

Originally, the district was going to cancel the trip, but reinstated it after being convinced by seniors in the 2016-17 class that the trip had educational value.

The district then approved spending about $150,000 for 181 students to attend the senior class trip in 2016-17.

This was the first time the district funded the majority of the trip, as students chipped in about $200 each.

In the 2015-16, the district funded $9,270, with the 73 participating students each paying $930, Newsday reported.

After public outcry over the increase in district spending toward the field trip, the district announced it had appropriated $40,000 in the 2017-18 budget to cover only educational expenses of the following year’s trip, but soon after announced that the money would remain in the budget but not go toward the Disney trip after residents said that the amount was still too much.

“I reaffirm that a decision on this matter was not made lightly, nor without proper vetting and research,” Mr. Poole wrote. “However, as a district, we recognized the importance of maintaining this 30-year tradition and believe that the restructured plan proposed will not only meet our educational commitments, but our fiscal ones as well.”

The Board of Education was scheduled to take action on the resolution regarding the trip at its March 13 Board of Education meeting, but with school closed due to the snow the Board will vote at its March 20 meeting.

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