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Verona BOE Discusses, Approves Camping Trip

Board approved Camp Bernie trip in 3-1 vote during Thursday night meeting.

The Verona Board of Education has agreed to let middle school students attend a week at Camp Bernie, a year after fathers were accused of drinking while they were supposed to be chaperoning students.

The board made the decision to approve the trip after drafting a 12-page set of regulations that goes over chaperone behavior, details how they choose class trips, how the trips get approved, what kinds of things teachers need to think about, the responsibility of principals, how to choose chaperones and a form chaperones will need to sign stating they will abide by the rules, said Superintendent Steven Forte.

“We have come up with a very comprehensive regulation,” said Verona Superintendent Steven Forte. “A lot of work has gone into it and we think that once it is in place it will help us ensure against things that happened in the past few months.”

The board passed the resolution 3-1. Board member Dawn DuBois abstained from the vote and board of education Vice President Joseph Bellino was the only member to vote against the trip.

“We've had quite a bit of discussion on it and many letters concerning the trip,” said Bellino. “The purpose of the trip is environmental education and team building experience for fifth grade students. There are plenty of other opportunities to do this if this is the experience you want, I don't see why this is our responsibility.”

The team building comes from the fact that you have four different elementary schools feeding into the middle school, said Forte. This exercise goes a long way in bringing in group harmony as they progress through the middle school.

“There are other ways to achieve environmental education,” said Bellino. “The team building thing, I dismiss that, I don't see any real value in that.”

The other board members disagreed. Board member Michael Unis described teamwork as something “unquantifiable” that occurs amongst students and teachers.

“I went on this trip as a kid and it was a very meaningful trip for me,” said Forte. “I have also chaperoned this trip in two different districts as a principal and as a teacher. I can say there is a value to this trip both as a student or as a teacher.”

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