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Dear Eagle Parents,
As we move into the second half of the school year, I feel it is important to update you on outdoor education information and some changes that are coming down the line this year and next.
As you know, the three outdoor education programs at CMS have been a source of pride for a long time, and rightfully so. The opportunity to learn in an outdoor environment is something few schools have access to these days. One of the major reasons is the costs involved.
Over the last several years, all three of our programs have run a deficit totaling about $10,000 each year. This amount is supplemented by nearly 22% of our building budget. This is money that cannot be spent on curriculum, training for teachers, technology, or other building needs. In December, I met with all three programs and charged them to find ways to make their programs break even or close. The Odyssey team, which had the largest annual deficit of $4000 in 2014 with a projected $5000 deficit in 2015 began to look at ways to increase revenue and cut costs.
Two weeks ago, the Odyssey staff, Mr. Morton, Mrs., Berreth, Mrs. Waring, Mr. Gonzalez, and Mrs. Clifford brought to me a proposal to make changes to this year’s program. After looking at their proposal and how it will benefit students and maintain a similar budget to last year, and visiting the new camp, I supported their decision.
With that, the 2015 Odyssey program will be slightly different. The program will run from Monday, June 8 through Thursday, June 11 (please note this is the correct date, the letter home had a date error) and will be held at the Nature Bridge Environmental Center on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Forest. This is an exciting change as Nature Bridge is an overnight learning center where kids use inquiry-based learning and hands-on instruction in an outdoor education setting to study the Pacific Northwest environment and local history. Please go to http://www.naturebridge.org/school-group-environmental-science-olympic to see the website and see what a day at Nature Bridge looks like.
Nature Bridge is taught by on-site teachers who focus on areas such as life and marine science, watershed studies, and earth science. Their lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Hikes will focus on local history and experiments, classrooms are designed for students to be hands on, and evening activities are designed to further expand student learning through guest speakers and presentations.
Although this date change will keep some costs under control this year, a solution is still needed to ensure that these programs can be maintained over the long term. To do this, each program has asked for a fee increase for their program. If approved by the school board, this fee increase will go into effect beginning with the Cispus program in September, 2015. The proposed fee increases do not effect the current years programs. The costs quoted to families at the beginning of the school year in September are still the costs in place the 2014-15 school year.
Also, to help support our programs, each outdoor education program will begin fundraising activities. You may have already noticed some, or they are beginning in the next few weeks. We ask you to help support these fundraisers as the money helps us send students who cannot afford to go and also some 'extras' that are not built into the program costs. Even more, feel free to contact myself or a staff member about how you can help, we love to work with involved parents.
Please contact any one of the Outdoor Odyssey staff members or myself if you need additional information, we would be glad to speak to you about these changes or anything else of concern.
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