Eyebrows raised over $500-a-day choir trip to Rome

Board questions trip's bang for the buck

June 1, 2010

Shorewood — A five-day high school choir trip to Rome in June 2011 got the nod of approval from the School Board although members questioned why it should cost about $2,790 person.

According to a letter from Choir Activities Director Jason Clark, the cost includes the flights, ground transportation in Europe, a festival fee of $150 per person, hotel accommodations, two meals per day, entrance fees to museums and attractions that are part of the itinerary and a multilingual tour manager on each tour bus. He said about 30 students had expressed an interest in making the trip.

Clark stated students would raise funds for the trip through various events during the upcoming school year. He was not present at the board meeting to answer questions nor did he return a reporter's phone calls.

No district funds will be used to fund the trip, however, approval of the School Board is required.

Member Michael Mishlove said the trip from June 23 to 27 is extremely expensive considering two days will be spent traveling.

Board President Paul Zovic said the cost for the length of the trip concerned him.

"I would like to challenge ourselves to find trips that are not $500 a day," he said.

According to Clark's letter, the choir received an invitation to perform in the annual Rome International Choral Festival. While in Rome, the choir's major performances would be participation in a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and a massed choir concert in Santa Maria sopra Minerva under the direction of Z. Randall Stroope of Oklahoma State University.

Mishlove also had concerns about the propriety of a public school choir preparing music for a Mass.

"I would like to hear more about that," he said.

District Administrator Blane McCann said all travel is beneficial to students, bringing experiences and education beyond classrooms.

The board approved the trip by a 5-0 vote.

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