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Potsdam school board approves trip to Spain

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POTSDAM - The Potsdam Central School District Board of Education voted 8-1 to authorize a trip that will send six of its students to Spain for a just over a week in April.

Board member J. Patrick Turbett cast the lone no vote. “My concern was the low number of students signed up, and I don’t think much has changed,” he said, explaining why the vote was tabled last month. At that time there were four students signed up for the trip, which costs roughly $3,000 per student.

School Superintendent Patrick Brady said the deadline to sign up for the trip is Friday. He also noted that should the board vote the trip down, four families would be out of $750 that they had already paid and two others who would be out smaller, but still significant down payments.

The superintendent said that in the past the trip has been made with as few as six students, but he understood Mr. Turbett’s concerns.

“We have talked about setting up some sort of threshold,” Mr. Brady said. “It’s an awkward situation, because we’re looking for approval when they already have money invested.”

Mr. Turbett said the fact that families had partially paid for a trip that had yet to earn board approval was unfortunate, but it wouldn’t be the board’s problem should the trip not be approved.

“I find that very objectionable,” he said. “It’s kind of like putting a gun to our heads.”

Mr. Turbett said while the number of students attending the trip has increased, he doesn’t consider six students to be a suitable number either.

“I don’t think six over four is much of an increase,” he said. “If we had a class with six students, we wouldn’t offer it would we? No, because we can’t afford to.”

Board of education member Frederick C. Stone Jr. said he liked the idea of creating a threshold for “overseas trips,” but he noted crafting such a policy might not be as easy as it sounds.

“Would we be liable if we approved a trip, but then people drop out and the trip no longer meets the threshold?” he asked.

Board President Christopher C. Cowen said that is something the program and policy committee would have to address while drafting the policy.

“I think that would be a problem for the program and policy committee to work out when wording that policy,” he said.

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