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Parents driving for field trips

Original post made by Bill, Duveneck/St. Francis, on May 10, 2011

I have children in school here and have wondered for some time about this policy...

For field trips, at least in elementary school the field trips rely on parent volunteers to transport the kids to and from the field trip. Why don't they arrange for school busses for this sort of thing?

To me it basically puts the costs on a few parents. Gas is a small part of it. I am more worried about the liability of driving 5 kids to far away places. The school requires 100/300 insurance, but there is a lot more potential liability than that. One accident and the driver could be financially wiped out.

This could be solved by using a bus, and having insurance on the bus. Why isn't this done in the PAUSD?

Comments (11)

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2011 at 10:05 am

Bill -

PAUSD doesn't own many buses because they are used mainly for the VTP kids. The buses couldn't leave until all the kids are in school (Hays starts something like 8:30) and would need to be back to pick up the kinders. So the timing doesn't usually work.

It does seem to me that the District should have some kind of insurance which would hold parent drivers financially blameless for accidents. And parents should certainly be reimbursed for gas if needed.

That said, some of my favorite memories of my kids in school involve driving on field trips!


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Posted by rainshade
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

Bill, Do you ever drive friends children around? If you're so worried that something will happen, don't drive and/or get umbrella insurance. I like the fact that parents are involved, especially in elementary schools.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

Buses are available on a limited basis (as noted above - school hours). For example, some of the HS sports teams use buses after school...however this service comes at a cost. Any use of a bus outside of the typical pick-up/drop-off routine costs the user group.

So in direct reference to your question - outside of the operational hours restraint, the second issue is covering the cost for the "rental" of the bus for the field trip.

It is not uncommon for some school-sponsored activities to charter a bus (West Valley Coach for example) --- again at a cost to the user group.


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Bill, I understand how you are thinking because I came originally from somewhere else where busses were routinely utilized. Busses were not only for special ed/Tinsley students.

I strongly agree you are correct to be worried about liability driving students around in California! Some stick their heads in the sand about this, but that is not advisable. People DO sue here.

Another thing they don't really have here is a regular cafeteria with full seating. My childhood included reasonably attractive full-service cafeterias as well as attractive gyms. (This was a middle to upper middle class area in a state that most would turn their noses up at here)
I admit I am a bit out of date about ALL PAUSD features/current facts since we are finished with PAUSD, but I assume nothing much has changed in some ways, and I know full well about students eating outside in blinding sun as well as cool/rain. It's weird considering the staggering costs PA taxpayers have to support PAUSD. The facilities ought to be luxury standard.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Rainshade...
Yes we do drive other kids around town on occasion. I would not drive someone else's kid to SF or places far away like that. If there were bus transportation parents can still be involved by chaperoning, which is what my mom did when I was growing up. Not all parental involvement is created equal. Spending time with kids is the important part... driving not so much.

I personally feel a litle wierd having someone I don't know driving my kid to places far away. I guess others don't feel similarly. Especially if the car har 5 young kids who can easily be a distraction.



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Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 10, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Bill, get over your paranoia and start living life. Those who can't handle the distraction of kids in the car do not volunteer to drive.

The yellow school buses don't have seat belts, so are they safer than a child riding belted in a car, minivan, or SUV?

And what if an earthquake were to occur on the ride to/from the field trip?


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 10, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I am not paranoid. I just think it is a wierd policy is all. Like a previous responder, I grew up in a place where we actually had busses, cafeterias, and gyms.

If you think that only people who who can handle the distraction volunteer to drive then maybe you should be a littlre more paranoid:)

I know people in other districts that actually take school busses on field trips so it is not a 'California thing'.


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Posted by Vianica
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2011 at 10:03 am

Not directly related to this thread but since it was referenced by someone above, I agree. I also find it weird that the little kids in elementary schools have to sit outside to eat their lunches and their snacks. It seems especially cruel when its raining or cold. Don't know what the deal with that is and why can some better arrangement not be made particularly during the cold weather season. And by the time the elementary kids get wait in line and get their "hot" lunches to their tables it is anything but that and pretty pathetic.

Someone needs to put their head into this.


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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

Look, I am a homeowner here (and taxpayer). I have a slight distance from the schools now, so I don't know if there has been some brilliant remodelling recently, but to my knowledge a fair number of students of all ages are stuck outside here. Considering the massive PAUSD budget and high teacher pay, I think facilities ought to be consistent with that (superior) but they are inconsistent. I don't think any student from little kid to high school, should be stuck outside in the rain/wind or getting sunburn.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm

From what I understand, most of our schools were built at a time when kids walked home for lunch and the schools were small enough that all the students could fit into the multi-purpose room. None of our elementary schools have that much land - any extra will be used for classrooms, not a cafeteria. When it is really cold or rainy, the kids eat in their classrooms (elementary) and hall ways (middle). The middle and high schools have gyms.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Mountain View
on May 21, 2013 at 10:20 am

"Those who can't handle the distraction of kids in the car do not volunteer to drive."

Not to rain on your parade, but some people *think* they can handle the distraction, but they cannot.

"The yellow school buses don't have seat belts, so are they safer than a child riding belted in a car, minivan, or SUV?"

Picture an 4-ton SUV hitting a BMW Mini. Picture that same 4-ton SUV hitting a school bus. Which would you rather be in?


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