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Board allows spring break trip to Germany
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MONROE - In an effort to save money and have a more meaningful trip, the Monroe school district will allow students to travel to Germany during spring break instead of summer next year.

The German exchange trip has been offered every other summer since 1990. District policy prohibits overseas travel during the school year, but granted the one-time waiver to allow next year's trip to take place during spring break.

Monroe High School Principal Mark Burandt spoke in favor of allowing the change. Rising airfares make it more economical to fly in the spring - summer rates are at least $400 more expensive than a March flight, he said.

It also will give students a chance to better experience a German education. Extensions of the school year because of snow days can push the departure date later into June, when German schools already are winding down. By traveling earlier, students can better see what German schools are like, Burandt said.

By going during the school year, MHS students also will be able to share more of their travel experience with fellow students who don't go on the trip, Burandt said.

On the negative side, German students going on the exchange will miss five days of school and two teachers will need substitutes to cover classes while they are on the exchange. The trip also may conflict with basketball playoffs.

The positives of granting the waiver outweigh the negatives, said Jennifer Thayer, director of curriculum and instruction. While she initially was concerned about students missing five days of school, after looking over the plan she believes students will "have a more valuable experience there" by traveling during spring break.

School board President Scott Schmidt likewise agreed the experience would make up for time away from the classroom. Ag students also miss considerable time for land judging and FFA, he said, but it's worth it.

"It's all part of education," he said.

Superintendent Larry Brown endorsed the waiver, suggesting the board allow the one-time change to see how it goes.

The exchange involves a minimum of 15 students and a maximum of 20.