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dgraab
dgraab , Parent asks:
Q:

Does your school use buses for field trips, or require parents to provide private vehicles for transporting the children?

I recently learned that at my daughter's new school, they do not provide school buses for student field trips. Instead, they rely on parents to use their private vehicles to transport the children. The teacher says the school and PTA cannot afford the $500 fee for hiring a bus for field trip transport, and that the district only supplies buses to Title 1 (or low-income) schools.

If a parent is unavailable to drive his/her child to the field trip, then another parent will need to volunteer to drive that child. A parent may also opt their child out of the field trip, though I know my daughter would be extremely disappointed if I chose this option. If the classroom doesn't get enough parent volunteers to drive the students, then the field trip will be canceled.

I'm currently feeling uncomfortable with this approach to field trip transport, because I don't yet know the other parents well enough to fully trust them to drive my child in their vehicle, and I'd prefer that a licensed commercial driver of a public school bus be the one to drive the children to school-sanctioned field trips. I'd rather have the classroom take fewer field trips and hire the bus, then move forward with private parent transport for the five field trips planned for this year's second graders.

Do you think I'm being overly concerned? Is it common now for schools to rely on parents to transport students on field trips rather than school buses? What is your school's approach to field trip transport?
In Topics: Outside the classroom, School safety (not bullying), Car safety
> 60 days ago

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lravidlearner
Oct 16, 2009
Level

Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
I'm a bit surprised that the school is taking this approach.  For liability issues alone, schools where I've taught avoided using parent volunteers for driving.

I would imagine the district's lawyer would advise that if this approach is used, the parent of each child riding with a volunteer would have to sign a form releasing the school from liability if their child is injured in the volunteer's car.  That's very off-putting to parents, and can obviously make them anxious.

Fundraising by a PTA or PTO is sometimes used to pay for field trips.  PTAs may not be able to raise enough for the entire trip.  But in some schools, the PTA helps fund those who cannot afford to pay a field trip fee.  I've often paid $10 to $15 for my daughter's field trips to cover transportation costs.

You're right to be concerned with the volunteer approach.  Discuss you concerns with the principal.

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Additional Answers (7)

kripp5911
kripp5911 writes:
My school lets us use a bus for field trips and basketball games.
> 60 days ago

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harwellcm
harwellcm writes:
See, I am the opposite, but I live in a very rural community. I don't want my kids riding the bus when it comes to the major freeways. I always tell the school my kids can go on the trip, but my husband or I will drive them. My father was a safety director for a bus company, and although they do receive great training, not everybody is a good, safe, naturally instinctive driver (commercially licensed bus drivers are just people).

I have personally witnessed school bus drivers running red lights, swerving to miss a dog in the road, and one driver pitched the bus sideways trying to avoid a car (on wet roads). These to me are not safe driving habits when operating a 12-14 ton vehicle with unsecured children aboard. I personally would not put my child at risk because I didn't want them to miss out.

That being said, I would not put my kid in a car with another parent or on the bus (when it is a greater distance or travel on a major highway is required) and I would take the day off to attend the field trip with my child.

Best of luck!
> 60 days ago

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Karenmom
Karenmom writes:
I agree with harwellcm, I prefer to drive the kids, the buses are not too safe.  Mine are car riders even on a daily basis.  

However, to your question.  Our schools do several different things depending on the length of trip, they will sometimes use the activity bus, sometimes on longer trips the parents share the expense to pay for a charter bus and other times, the parents provide the transportation.  I am a volunteer and attend all these trips, I always drive my private vehicle and my child rides back with me from the trip.  You should feel safe with the parents as long as your school has taken necessary precautions about their parent volunteers.  At my school, each parent, like myself, must submit a lot of information to help at the school and they do the following checks.  A complete background check, I provided my social security number and this did include a credit check, drug tests, I provided my driver's license number and they checked my driving record.  Educational background, such as records and grades from schools including college.  If a parent does not agree to submit their private information, they are not allowed to work directly with the school.  If a parent submits the information, they MUST pass all parts of the checks OR they are not allowed to work directly with the school.  

Check with your school to see what checks they have made, and if they did as they should, you will be able to feel perfectly comfortable with your child being with these parent volunteers. They are mature, responsible, caring adults and usually their child is on the same trip with them, so naturally they want the safety of each child and themselves.  It is cost efficient for these parents to allow the children to ride with them, because they are paying for the gas and driving on the trip anyway, so why not share the transportation available with others + it cuts down on traffic on the road and pollution.  I think it's great that your school is being that concerned for the well being of your children.

Best wishes!
> 60 days ago

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Wayne Yankus
Wayne Yankus writes:
Your school is opening itself up to tremendous liability.  First, school buses are safer if they have seat belts (NJ and CA). Second, there are no background checks on parents and are they really the parents? What if a grand parent has a stroke while driving? Most school bus drivers have had at least an immunization screen and health check. Third, most parents work and cannot do this. The question then becomes, is it fair to those parents?  I have been a school doctor for 30+ years and we have seen the issues. Our system is reducing field trips because of cost, liability and strategic concerns. the goal is no field trips. We are a suburban NYC school system. the big issue is medication administration during trips (all types including inhalers), and mistakes when special ed kids need additional guidance.

If your system can't afford buses, they can't afford the trips.  Consider alternatives or go to these sites as a family at your leisure.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist and school doctor
Education.com
> 60 days ago

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Karenmom
Karenmom writes:
Hi again,

Well school in our county is off to the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year and as I was reading over our materials, I remembered this question and just wanted to respond again.

Field trips/Volunteering/Chaperoning:

In the back of the county handbook are several forms that you will need to fill out and return to school.  One of these forms is an authorization from the county to conduct a criminal background check.  The county system is requiring ANYONE who volunteers and/or chaperones in the schools to have a criminal background check.  This is for the safety of our students.  If you are planning to volunteer and/or chaperone at any time this year, you will need to fill out and return this form.  Please remember, this includes volunteering at the festival, field day, field trips, working book fairs, volunteering in the classroom.  

No one is allowed with the students at any time if they fail to complete this form and receive authorization to be on the school premises.  This includes providing our personal information, social security #'s, driver license numbers, etc.

My concern is NOT that parents, grandparents or other family members of a student is with my child or the other children on field trips, etc. as much as it concerns me that any county did not require this type of background check for their school and their student's safety.

I seriously doubt that a grandparent/parent will have a stroke while transporting children on a field trip or outing.  The odds of this happening is as rare as the bus driver suffering a stroke or heart attack while driving.  However, it is likely that a bus driver may be on the cell phone or distracted for other reasons that they may or may not be able to control.  The grandparent/parent is transporting their child and not just performing the duties of a low income job.

Hope this helps and if your school does not take such safety measures, I would address this issue with the school system and see if these safety rules could be enforced in your district.

Best wishes for the new school year & I hope that your child can take full advantage of the good quality, educational field trips with their classmates.  

My hopes are that other schools that are trying to delete these wonderful activities will come to reasoning and enforce proper procedures and plan field trips with good value.
> 60 days ago

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cptwuffy
cptwuffy writes:
I can't speak for other school districts but in general, there is no safer way to transport students than in a big yellow school bus. They are built with the biggest priority being to protect passengers in the evernt on an accident.  Consider the injuries involved if a vehicle full of kids is side swiped or rear ended with a standard family passenger vehicle.  Students in a school bus are rarely ever injured when involved in a multi-vehicle accident.  Seat belts have not proven to improve safety and in some cases make evacuation very time consuming.
> 60 days ago

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USS6boys
USS6boys writes:
I don't think you are being overly concerned. But I have the opposite issue at our school. When my children were in k-3rd grade they always relied upon parent drivers and chaperones for field trips. I loved this as it allowed me to spend time with the kids and know they were safe with me. Now that my oldest is in 5th grade they are using only buses, not allowing all parents to come b/c of the lack of seats and the field trips are 1-2 hours away. This makes me nervous! I do see the issue about not being able to accompany your child and having to trust another parent to drive them. For me, I kept my kids home if I couldn't go with them. And soon, I had met a couple of parents whom I trusted and if I couldn't go, I'd send my kid with them. And vice versa. Hopefully the same will happen for you!
> 60 days ago

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