Friday, April 20, 2018 Elyria 39°
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Elyria Schools teachers want foreign trip for students

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ELYRIA — Two Elyria High School teachers want to take students to Costa Rica, which would be the district’s first international trip in nearly 12 years.

The experience, if approved by the board, would bring together students of science teacher Jennifer Bechtel and Spanish teacher Hannah McLoughlin for an educational experience that would immerse them in the language and ecosystem of the country.

“This will give them an experience that they would never get in Elyria, in Ohio, or anywhere else in the country,” Bechtel said.

The tentative plans for the trip would see between 10 and 15 junior and senior students depart for a nine-day trip to the Central American country in June 2019 at a cost of $2,049 per student. The district would collaborate with a firm to help in the planning and execution of the trip.

Bechtel and McLoughlin said fundraising by students and family payments would pay for the trip.

This is an early and big request by the teachers, but Superintendent Tom Jama said the teachers wanted to bring the idea to the board as soon as possible to allow time for discussion and fundraising.

“This is not new for us, but we haven’t done this in a very long time,” he said. “But there is a lot of discussion in the area and across the state about field trips, so it best for us to address this sooner.”

Board President Greg Elek said the trip could be an exciting experience for students, but the board will need to spend considerable time in discussion, including receiving a legal opinion on district liabilities, before deciding. In addition, the teachers would have to present a clear safety plan far in advance.

“When you are in the business of safety and education, we will always err on the side of safety over education,” he said. “That is something we cannot take lightly.”

North Ridgeville Schools recently canceled the May eighth-grade trip to D.C., citing safety as the reason in the wake of violent attacks in New York, Nevada and Texas.

McLoughlin said in her tenure as a teacher she has taken students to France and Spain. Bechtel said she has chaperoned trips to London, Paris and the French countryside when a teacher in Strongsville.

“What I have found is if you put certain safety measures in play, everyone can have a good time and be safe,” she said.

In other news

School board members unanimously passed a resolution in support of the Ohio Senate Bill 216, which is being introduced to address problems and pressures associated with state-mandated education requirements.

The bill champions local control, which is something school officials have been strong advocates of in recent years.

“Anytime you have a mandate that rolls back mandates and moves more authority and control from Ohio to local superintendents is a win-win all the way around,” said Elek.

Some of the challenges the bill would address include eliminating barriers to employing high-quality teachers, eliminating the unnecessary duplication of tests used to assess student learning, proving a more accurate method of assessing a third-grade students’ ability to read and write, restoring the rights of parents to have some control over their children’s attendance and consolidating and streamlining state reporting requirements.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

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