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School district reinstates 6th grade camp funding
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Last year, in a remarkable display of cooperation and commitment parents and schools raised more than $200,000 to send about 1,000 Turlock Unified School District sixth graders camp. 

This coming year, however, parents will get a break from fundraising — at least for camp — as the Turlock Unified School District (TUSD) Board of Trustees unanimously approved the reinstatement of all funding for sixth grade camp at Foothill Horizons.

Concurrently the board also approved a public approval to philosophically consider the camp as part of the school district curriculum. The camp will cost the TUSD general fund more than $202,000.

Before the 2010-11 school year the board had elected to not fund the camp, sending schools and parents rallying for fundraising money. Fortunately, the outdoor camp had been scheduled to take place in May, later in the school year, which allowed parents more time to raise the necessary funds.

This year, Turlock Unified must send students to camp in mid-October to early November because of scheduling conflicts with Foothill Horizons.

Trustee Bob Weaver became intimately familiar with the challenges of fundraising last school year.

“I fundraised with Julien (Elementary) and this amount of fundraising can’t be sustained every year, and it certainly can’t be done by October,” said Weaver.

Fundraising aside, teachers and board members praised the educational value of the outdoor three-day camp.

“I do feel this is a great experience. To say it’s an educational experience is minimizing the camp — it’s a life experience. I fully support funding this, and if we didn’t it would be doing a disservice,” said Trustee Tami Muniz.

“I’ve spoken with teachers and they’ve told me this camp is something they can scaffold off of the whole school year and make connections back to it,” added Trustee Josh Bernard.

Sixth graders have been going to Foothill Horizons for generations. The current camp curriculum includes lessons about ecology, Native American history, geology, astronomy, biology and physical activities.


Board adopts ‘place holder budget’

On Tuesday, the TUSD Board of Trustees also adopted the 2011-12 budget, only because it had to. The board is mandated by the state to pass a budget by July. Currently, the California legislature is in a budget mess in Sacramento. It passed a budget, which was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. Then State Controller John Chiang elected to start withholding legislature pay. TUSD Chief Financial Officer Lori Decker called the passed budget a “place holder budget.” The board will have to make adjustments as needed if and when Sacramento finally gets its act together.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.