Steel Valley boys basketball trip request sparks plan to review field trip policies
Steel Valley school directors want to review field trip policies, as well as possibly start a middle school boys volleyball program.
As discussed at Monday's lengthy co-curricular leadership committee meeting, athletic director and high school boys basketball coach Shawn McCallister said he wants to take his team and four paid teachers, including himself, to the KSA Events Holiday Basketball Tournament in Orlando in December.
The five-day trip would take students out of the Steel Valley area Dec. 17-21.
The trip originally was pitched at “no cost to the district,” but school directors said it would cost approximately $5,400 in teacher salaries.
McCallister said he and other teachers going on the trip would participate in fundraisers to cover the cost of substitute teachers needed at Steel Valley to teach their classes. But the district would have to pay him and the other three employees for their time on the Orlando trip.
School director Mary Yuhas said the trip request was pulled from this month's voting agenda because of financial concerns. She repeatedly said she is in favor of the students going on the trip.
Yuhas and other directors encouraged a compromise of two paid teachers, including McCallister, traveling with the students. Directors said two volunteers could chaperone the students, along with the two paid teachers, if four people are necessary.
McCallister said district policy states only paid staffers are responsible for the students on a trip. Previously such trips were approved for the 2006-07 and 2009-10 school years.
“I believe this is what we need to have on the trip,” McCallister said.
He said four teachers were paid to travel on band trips and other events.
School director Donald Bajus was concerned about four teachers and their students missing classroom instruction.
“Have you seen our grades?” asked Bajus. “We can't afford to miss an hour.”
School director Sue Ballas said the board needs to review all field trip policies.
“We cannot do it case by case,” Ballas said.
School director Michael Terrick said the board will contact district Solicitor Donald Fetzko for advice.
Terrick said he hopes the board can take action on the trip at its next regular meeting, on May 1.
District officials and meeting attendees questioned the lack of “feeder programs,” or middle school athletics.
McCallister said the district currently has no middle school spring sports for boys.
That prompted plans to send surveys to seventh- and eighth-graders to gauge their interest in starting a boys volleyball team. There is a girls middle school volleyball team.
“We'll take it one step at a time,” McCallister said about possibly starting other programs.
The district has middle school boys and girls soccer and basketball teams. Community programs such as youth football, baseball and softball teams help prepare future high school students for those sports.
School directors plan to schedule a meeting for next week to discuss developing school uniforms and updating the electronic device policy.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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