Tuesday night, the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board unanimously voted to reinstate funding for the Foothill Horizons Outdoor Education, otherwise known as sixth grade camp.
The program funding had a price tag of over $202,000, adding up to more than $220 per student for the three day, two night camp.
For the past two years, there has been no funding provided for the camp, and schools resulted in successfully fundraising to send students and parents to attend. However, sixth graders, parents, and teachers alike, will not have to worry about fundraising this year.
Trustee Bob Weaver said that the camp cannot be sustained by fundraising every year and that it definitely cannot be done by October, the month when camp is scheduled instead of last year’s May date.
“If outdoor education was considered part of our curriculum we ought to fund it, that’s our obligation,” added Weaver.
Outdoor Education is an exciting experience for sixth graders, as well as educational. At camp, the students are educated about various science, environmental, and historical topics, in a fun hands-on fashion.
Ultimately all Trustees wanted to keep this camp as an activity for sixth graders, and saw its educational benefits.
Trustee Tami Muniz said that it sometimes is the first time a student gets to venture out of Turlock.
“To say that it is an educational experience I think is minimizing it, I think it’s a life experience,” said Muniz. “We’d be foolish not to fund it; I think it would be doing a disservice to our students.”
Dr. Sonny Da Marto, TUSD Superintendent, explained to the Board that there ultimately are three options for this issue. The Board can either fund the camp, fundraise, or eliminate the program.
While Trustees Josh Bernard, Eileen Hamilton, Weaver, and Muniz voiced their opinion to reinstate the funding, Trustee Holt had concerns regarding how to address the issue after this fiscal year, as there might not always be funding available.
The end result was a 5-0 vote from the TUSD Board (President Frank Lima and Trustee John Sims were absent) and funding for Outdoor Education, at least for this year.