GROTON — No sooner had the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee met for the first time this academic year than it was asked to revisit an issue members thought they had settled last spring.
At that time, music director Timothy Savoy had approached the committee for permission to take students participating in the chamber choir and jazz band on a trip to Italy from April 16-25.
Savoy guessed the trip would involve between 30-50 of his students at an individual cost of about $3,645.
Riding a wave of local pride following a triumphant trip to London, no one at the time expected the program to be refused a similar trip to Italy as a follow-up.
But reservations about costs and possible exploitation of the students by the trip’s organizer prevented the School Committee from agreeing to the request.
Committee member Leslie Lathrop balked at the high cost individual students, or their parents, would have to pay and feared that such trips were in danger of changing from educational experiences to unpaid touring.
The initiative was defeated in a 2-2 tie with other members abstaining.
Appearing before the School Committee Sept. 11, Lisa Sousa, who was accompanied by a number of other parents and students, said that over the summer a survey was conducted in which results indicated strong support for the Italy trip.
Sousa reported that those who favored the trip were willing to pay for up to 77 percent of the needed funding by conducting fundraising activities. However, the need for that sum was reduced to 23 percent.
“We think there’s a lot of value to the trip,” Sousa told committee members. “Also, it will be a great benefit to the school.”
Sousa, a parent of a student in the chamber choir, noted that the trip would enhance students’ resumes and teach them the value of working to get what they want.
“Overall, it will be a great goal for the students,” said Sousa.
Members were still skeptical with Lathrop voicing the same concerns she had the first time.
“I’m very uncomfortable with the whole situation,” said Lathrop.
Lathrop expressed concern that some students would go to Italy while others remained behind with no clear idea of what they would be doing when most of their peers were gone.
Member James Frey, who joined Lathrop in the original vote not to approve the trip, noted that many parents did not reply to the survey and that only half the jazz-band members had expressed interest in going.
The discussion concluded with Frey suggesting that School Committee members take some time to digest the new information pending a meeting between themselves, the district’s administration and parents to go over the details.
A second vote on the issue could then be made at the committee’s meeting Oct. 9.