Jan. 13, 2020

Rep. Joseph McNamara, 401-742-5297


McNamara bill would allow school districts to raise funds for field trips, dances, activities


STATE HOUSE — Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) has introduced legislation that would allow school districts to raise the money necessary to fund certain extracurricular activities, including field trips and dances.

The legislation (2020-H 7069) would allow a school district to request a contribution of money from a student or the student’s parent or legal guardian to pay, in whole or in part, for the cost of district sponsored field trips, dances, clubs, and other district sponsored or based programs of extracurricular activities, provided that the district would pay the costs to meet any deficit.

“Field trips are an important part of learning, enriching the curriculum, strengthening observation skills by immersing children into sensory activities,” said Representative McNamara, a former educator who chairs the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee. “The current policy of the Department of Education regarding the way these activities can be funded has caused many school districts to do away with field trips entirely. That’s just unacceptable, because they are vital in increasing a child’s knowledge of specific subjects, even generating the interest, enthusiasm and passion for subjects that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”

Last year, many school districts canceled field trips in the wake of a Rhode Island Department of Education policy that was established in April by the former commissioner, Dr. Ken Wagner. The policy stated that school departments may not charge students to participate in public school field trips. Since it was interpreted that no fund raising could be done for these trips either, the policy effectively eliminated the field trips in many places.

The legislation proposed by Representative McNamara with the support of House leadership would codify the ability of school districts to request money, establish a minimum goal for fundraising and to receive contributions or gifts of money as a prerequisite to determining whether the district would participate in the activity.

The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Justine A. Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich), Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick), Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), and John W. Lyle Jr. (R-Dist. 46, Lincoln, Pawtucket), has been referred to the Health, Education and Welfare Committee.






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