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Davis Journal

Parents ask board to change policy on elementary school travel

May 06, 2022 10:48AM ● By Becky Ginos

Students at Valley View Elementary placed second in state at the VEX robotics competition and qualified for the world competition but won’t be able to attend because of a district policy that prohibits elementary travel. Courtesy photo

FARMINGTON—Members of the Valley View VEX robotics team took second in state and qualified for the world competition in Texas, but because of a district policy prohibiting elementary school travel they won’t be going. Parents of the students came before the school board at the April 19 meeting to express their concerns. The board was set to vote on the policy later in the meeting.

“There is no elementary funding for travel,” said one parent. “We tried to apply for funding through an outside business but because it’s not backed by the district we couldn’t get funding. The district is blocking all avenues for us to go. It’s very disappointing.”

“These kids in the VEX program have worked very, very hard,” said another parent. “They took second in state and qualified for the worlds. I’m here to advocate for the students. It’s ironic that you will be voting on this later in the meeting.”

The policy prohibits extended travel, a destination more than 100 miles from the district administrative office, overnight travel, missed school days, etc.,” said Ben Onafrio, attorney for the district who presented the policy for a vote. “Currently there is no way for the robotics team to travel because there is no way for us to charge because there is no fee schedule for elementaries.”

One of the parents mentioned they were not able to go and get sponsorships and raise money, Board member Julie Tanner said. “Are parents then allowed to form a team on their own without the sponsorship of the district?”

“I believe that would be up to VEX,” said Onafrio. “That’s not something I would know about. That would not be the school’s purview whether or not parents did that on their own. We would not be sponsoring that.” 

“And they would not use the school’s equipment,” said Superintendent Reid Newey.

There’s a discrepancy in the policy, said Board member Liz Mumford. “There’s a place in our policy that mentions elementary travel but there’s never been a practice of elementary travel since we made policy changes several years ago. This is really aligning our travel policy to match our fee policy.”

This also takes away confusion, she said. “That’s an apology that I make that there’s some confusion this year from the teams that had different expectations going into this experience. We want to avoid that any way we can moving forward. I don’t think that diminishes their accomplishments; there are several teams that qualified.”

The teachers, parents and especially these students have done amazing work, she said. “We want this program to grow and expand.”

Mumford said the board looked at elementary travel a couple of years ago because the competition was in St. George. “I believe the district made a significant effort to make sure we had a location with the capacity to support this locally because we really want to improve access so these kids can participate. We want kids to be successful in VEX robotics or whatever the case may be. We have to look at this long term based on safety and the value academically and socially with kids in this age group, equity, cost and other factors.”

Mumford said she was not supportive of elementary travel. “It’s something we’ll have to address now or later. It’s a bummer for the families that thought they were getting into something that had the potential to escalate but we just haven’t had elementary kids travel and I’m not supportive of moving forward.”

The board voted unanimously to approve the policy prohibiting elementary travel.λ