The Kingsland School Board of Directors held a brief meeting Friday morning, March 23, approving the Kingsland Spanish instructor's request to take interested Spanish III students on a tour of Costa Rica.

At the regular Kingsland School Board meeting on March 19, Spanish instructor Mollie McMahon presented a travel request for Spanish III students to go to Costa Rica in June 2013, approximately two weeks after graduation next year.

She shared that "during the school year, I'm with students maybe five hours a week ... that's not much compared to how much they'd learn if they could go on a tour."

McMahon had cited at that meeting that "traveling abroad is an excellent learning experience ... I took a four-month trip to Spain while I was in college and it changed how confident and independent I am."

She added, "This trip is nine days long and is equal to a couple of weeks in the classroom - students will experience Spanish outside the classroom, grow as people and gain independence and confidence. I chose Costa Rica because it's the safest and least expensive ... the trip includes airfare, hotel, motor coach, a guide, three meals a day and insurance. They'll go kayaking, visit national parks, go zip-lining."

Chaperones on the trip will be at a six to one student-chaperone ratio, according to the Spanish instructor. Students must have a 3.0 GPA and be in good standing in their classes, and so far 16 students are interested. Seven of those will have graduated.

During the March 19 meeting, board member Steve Tart made a motion to approve the trip, but the motion died for lack of a second as the board examined its school travel policy, which includes some prohibitions that would defeat McMahon's purpose in preparing interested students for the trip. Specifically, current juniors who wish to participate would not be allowed to do so because they would be graduates of Kingsland High School next summer, and the policy states that individuals who hold diplomas are no longer Kingsland students.

The students' registration, if submitted to the foreign travel company by March 30, could cost $75 less, and McMahon asked the board to make a decision as soon as possible, as the cost of the trip is approximately $2,500 and "every little bit saved helps."

At the March 23 meeting the school board reviewed Kingsland's travel policy because of concerns that current juniors who have worked to raise the $2,228 to go on the trip would be excluded due to a clause in the policy that states that "all student trips outside of the state are to be taken during the summer months," and another that says "students must be a currently enrolled student - students with a high school diploma are not considered current students."

Board member Peggy Merkel stated, "I just want to make sure that we're doing this right, because this is only two weeks after they graduate."

The board did decide to approve the trip, slated for June 17 to 25, 2013, making an exception to the policy, as the tour is "educational and directly related to school curriculum."

The approval also allows McMahon and tour-enrolled students to begin fundraising projects to offset the cost of travel.