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Valley News Dispatch

Allegheny Valley School Board considers paying for student conference trips

| Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, 8:27 p.m.

The Allegheny Valley School Board will vote next week on paying for students to attend conferences, but at least one director has reservations.

The board is set to vote Monday on sending students to the Future Business Leaders of America state leadership conference and to the Academic Games National Competition.

When the matter came up for discussion Tuesday, board member and Treasurer Elizabeth Moretti questioned if the district should bear the costs of those trips.

“Do we want to spend this money on extracurricular activities, or do we want to spend it on things that are required in the classroom?” Moretti said.

The FBLA conference will take place in Hershey from April 8 to 11.

Superintendent Patrick Graczyk recommended the board approve the request of the two FBLA faculty sponsors to attend the conference with 15 students.

The cost of $320 per person, including registration, lodging and meals, comes to $4,800.

The district also will provide its own transportation for the group so that none of the costs would be out-of-pocket for the students and staff.

Graczyk also recommended approval for three faculty sponsors and qualified students to participate in the Academic Games National Competition from April 26 to May 1 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Although the number of students who would qualify to attend isn't known yet, the cost of transportation to Knoxville would be capped at $5,000. The agenda item made no mention of paying for meals and lodging, but the district would bear the additional cost of paying for substitute teachers.

Board member Stephen Puskar took issue with Moretti's view, noting “things that take place in the classroom don't happen in a vacuum.”

He noted that the district routinely spends more money on other extracurricular activities. Puskar pointed out the board's recent approval to spend around $20,000 on uniforms for the marching band and noted it pays for equipment and uniforms for the football team and other sports teams as well.

Board member Jim Gaschler, who graduated from the district a few years ago, also disagreed. Gaschler said he attended the FBLA conference twice and said it was a great experience for him and allowed the students to meet a lot of business leaders.

Graczyk said the board can re-evaluate the expenditure if it chooses.

However, Puskar, noting the district had a $1.8 million budget surplus last year, said, “If we can take $5,000 out of $1.8 million and give a kid an experience, how can you not do that?”

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer.

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