By Rosemary K. Otzman
They don’t know how many Belleville High School students will be going yet, but the Van Buren Public Schools Board of Education approved a 2015 Spring Break trip to Europe.
Students will be paying their own way at a cost of $4,863 each for the 12-day trip to France and Spain, which begins March 31. The 2015 trip is two days longer than past programs.
The passport fees of about $96 and lunch and personal spending money is on top of the travel fee.
There are FLAG scholarships up to $600 available for qualifying families.
BHS students have been heading for Europe every two years since 2001.
At Monday’s meeting of the school board, the trips to France and Spain were approved through WorldStrides International Discovery Programs.
Traveling with the students will be teachers Stacey Buhro, Matt Davenport, and Daryl Niner.
In the paperwork presented to the board it was noted that Niner’s daughter (2005) and son (2007) travelled with the BHS students to France and Spain and their European experiences took the place of formal high school graduation parties.
Davenport’s younger brother went in 2007 and Buhro’s son went in 2013.
The trip starts off with an overnight flight to Paris, followed by trips to Versailles, Nice, Monaco, Provence, Carcassonne, Barcelona, Madrid, and then home to the U.S. on April 11.
The trip will give students a chance to practice their language skills, visit museums and historic landmarks and develop interpersonal skills as they travel together.
Board Treasurer Sherry Frazier said years ago her daughter took the trip and she said it gives students a new perspective on the world.
Trustee Scott Russell said when his daughters grow up he would like to see them take the trip, but he’s got to start saving up because it is expensive.
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the school board:
• Formally received $1,500 as a donation from the Van Buren Civic Fund to match the $1,500 grant from the Van Buren Public Schools Education Foundation to help get equipment for the new transition program at Haggerty School;
• Approved hiring Michelle Feury as a kindergarten teacher at Edgemont as of Nov. 1;
• Approved termination of Andrew Monteleone, a custodian for seven years, as of Oct. 31;
• Heard a presentation on academic activities and programs at Belleville High School;
• Approved the 2013-14 budget amendments as presented by Director of Finance Karen Moffitt, who noted the revenue is expected to go up to $47,278,550 this year and expenditures down to $46,440,063, which pushes the amount of revenue over expenses up to $837,587. Adding that to last July’s fund balance will push the fund balance up to $4,224,378. She said that makes the fund balance about 10% of the general fund budget, which School Supt. Michael Van Tassel said was the magic number for the district. Now they won’t have to take out a loan next summer and pay interest, to tide the district over until the state’s late payments arrive;
• Heard School Supt. Michael Van Tassel announce that at next Monday’s 7 p.m. workshop session at the administration building, the board will discuss the $1,790,731 bond reserve fund balance from the bonds sold to build BHS. He said “the clock is ticking” and they have to decide what to do with it at the Jan. 15 meeting. Monday’s meeting is open to the public; and
• Noted the next school board meeting will be 7 p.m., Dec. 9, at the BHS Commons.
By Rosemary K. Otzman