D65 to refund excursion fees

If you’re of a certain age, or if you like TV trivia, you might remember a quiz show called “The $64,000 Question.”

Well, at Evanston/Skokie School District 65, it’s now “The $54,000 Question.”

That’s how many eighth grade parents at Nichols Middle School are absent due to the cancellation of an out-of-town civil rights history field trip to Georgia and Alabama.

36 families x $1,500 per child = $54,000.

But at the school board’s finance committee meeting on Monday afternoon, Superintendent Devon Horton assured those parents, who hadn’t taken out cancellation insurance, “we’ll do everything we can to make sure you don’t lose any of your money” if the trip doesn’t work out. are carried out. reset for a different time.

The whole saga sounded like something on the cutting edge of COVID and confusion.

Based on explanations from administrators, the trip was initially approved in 2019 for February 2020, but was postponed to an uncertain future date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But for reasons yet to be determined, the Nichols journey at least went through as a possibility, even if all of them District 65 field trips would be canceled for the current school year.

By the time someone discovered the discrepancy, the Nichols trip was off because of omincron, but it was too late for parents without travel insurance to get their money back.

Horton admitted that “there were certainly some missteps on the part of the district and the school.”

Still, 42 other Nichols families, officials said, have paid for the travel insurance and will be getting their money back that way.

Raphael Obafemi, the district finance director, pointed out that a waiver signed by parents clearly stated that without that insurance, there would be no refunds if the family did not cancel their child’s trip by a certain date.

And in fact, the travel agency’s website, Brightspark, says “What is the refund policy?… No refunds will be given to those who cancel within 45 days of departure” unless those individuals have cancellation insurance.

Still, with all the confusion about timing and whether or not to plan the trip, board members and drivers didn’t want to saddle uninsured parents with the expense of an educational adventure their children may never undertake.

There’s still a chance the trip will take place in late May or early June, but that’s up to Nichols’ school parents, teachers and administrators…and only, officials said, if COVID-19 has abated in the South.

If the trip is indeed canceled for good, District 65 will try to get refunds from the tour operator, perhaps using leverage like “You want our business going forward, don’t you?”

But if that doesn’t work, District 65 will reimburse the parents itself.

Finance panel chair Joey Hailpern said: “We’re not going to give families the money. We will find a way to make up for it on our side.”

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