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Diesel costs may curb long field trips for Hall County schools
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High diesel prices might place future out-of-state field trips out of reach for students in Hall County schools.

As Superintendent Will Schofield discussed a list of out-of-state field trips with the school board Monday evening, he told them that high diesel prices are forcing the administration to view long-distance field trips with a more discriminating eye.

And cutting costs may mean cutting field trips.

"We are going to have to get serious about setting up criteria about out-of-state, long-distance field trips with $4.50 a gallon diesel fuel," Schofield said.

The superintendent told the school board that he has charged the system’s teaching and learning division with evaluating whether proposed field trips serve an educational purpose in terms of "performance standards" and weighing their costs with their educational benefits.

"There is a limit to what we can afford, and we’re just going to have to be wise in terms of how we spend our dollars," Schofield said.

Unsure of how the list of various "team-building" field trips that were up for approval at Monday’s work session would be financed, Schofield did not recommend their approval or denial until he could get more information on how they would be funded. Schofield told the board that the administration will have to scrutinize all expenditures, and "look at trying to do some things differently" as the state budget faces nominal cuts and uncertainty in the coming year.

"I think we’re moving into a time of resource scarcity that we probably have not seen in recent memory in the state of Georgia," Schofield said.

The superintendent approves most school field trips, but the board of education must approve all overnight or out-of-state field trips, Schofield said.

School resource officers

In other business, the Hall County Board of Education honored its school resource officers and Hall County sheriff’s deputies for their recent national recognition.

The National Association of School Resource Officers recently named the Hall County agency as one of four Model School Resource Officer agencies in the nation.

Gary Stewart, the director of school safety who helped create the school resource officer program in 1999, thanked all the school resource officers for their work in the school system and said Hall County’s program was worthy of recognition because of the way the personnel performed their duties.

"You not only have to be there in the role of a protector of our students, but you have to be there as a counselor and sometimes just plain out be a friend," Stewart said.

Sheriff Steve Cronic said the honor was a testament to the partnership between his agency and the school system.

"In a few meetings ... we talked about what was needed, and there was no red tape, there was no ‘well, we’ll see’... It was ‘if this is what we need, this is what we do,’" Cronic said.

New charter academy

The school board unanimously approved an application asking for $3.2 million to give Lanier Career Academy charter status.

If approved, Schofield said the system plans to add programs that teach culinary arts, marketing and business and resort management.

Most of the requested money would go toward construction costs for needed additions to the school, and $200,000 could be used for operating costs, said Eloise Barron, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.

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