Overnight trip policy

Our district is looking to rewrite our activities handbook. The overnight trip procedure has been a struggle as long as I have been coaching robotics. Looking for good examples of policy.


As it stands right now for our district. We have to submit trip requests 30 days in advance that has to be approved by the principal, the activities director, the superintendent and the school board. At their meeting. There is close to 20 pages of forms. I as the coach need to fill out and submit for any overnight field trip request form 4 pages. Including an explanation of student classes missed, cost breakdown per student on transportation , lodging, substitute teachers, registration fees.
Plus full itinerary for each day. Plus some kind of document proving the activity we are attending is actually a real thing, 1 or 2 pages. Travel request form for per diem for every adult attending the trip and a group form for all students. 4 to 5pages, transportation request form to use a school vehicle 1 page, after the travel forms have been approved I need to take a check made out in my name to the bank and have them divvy up per day per student All per diem dollars . As the students receive per diem dollars they need to sign a form each day that I have to resubmit to the district 3 to 4 pages. If any of the funds are coming out of somewhere but my general robotics account , oftentimes they are coming out of a student activity account, There needs to be a page for every check request for every item that is being paid out of the student activity account with an advisor, athletic director and a student signature.
Plus, I find the hotel rooms and get quotes and submit that to the business office for approval, which may require a student activity account check request form. If we are to eat at the venue as a group, that’s another student check request form to pay the vendor for the food and would be deducted from the student’s daily per diem.

Sorry for the rant but is anybody else doing anything like this?

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That’s a whole Lotta red tape and I work for the government so I know red tape lol


Yikes! That is a ton of junk time. I do understand the perceived need for the school to justify the trip, but still…
We are a community-based team and have been operating independently from the school for eight years prior to this last season. Then, out of the blue, came a request from the superintendent that we needed to fill out a bunch of paperwork much like you described, sans per diem. It was quite a shock to say the least. Much of it was N/A because we get no real support from the school district. No space, no transportation, no staff, no funding.
I’m sure we will have to do this in the future as well. If nothing else, it keeps FIRST events as “school business” and is considered an excused absence for the students.

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For our school, we need the expected (when, where, how, etc) plus:

-Cost to students
-How this will benefit them academically
-Substitute teachers needed
-Principal Approval
-Board Approval
-Board meets once a month so we just need to send the request ~3 business days before the monthly meeting.

We also ensure students speak with teachers about working ahead/missing assignments. If we use a school bus, we have some additional information regarding travel but it is minimal.

What you have to go through seems egregious. However, we are operating almost entirely through a 501 c3. Even when we weren’t, we did not have to explain why or how we were spending our school funds (entirely self-raised) aside from the vendor and a blurb out what it will be used for (i.e registration, robot parts).

Here’s to hoping some meaningful change happens within your district.

Is that School district or First District? Our travel policy is dictated by the school board. It is the same policy that band, football, etc follow. It is set by people way above our pay grade.

School district. The difference between us and most other activities is the overnight aspect. That’s where everything gets complicated. There is no paperwork required for the football team to go to an evening game and come home.

I am a little surprised that there is not some overnight travel for other school activities. Our band has several overnight travel events. Our football is mostly day trips, but tournaments for other teams can be multi-day.

Our school does not contribute financially to travel so those considerations are handle by the team with board oversight.

As a school team travel policies and behavior expectations are set by the district. There is a standard set of forms and permissions slips that the coach has to fill out. The school does has veto power on the trip. We work hard to keep good relations with the school administration.

The team has set participation and additional behavior expectations to be allowed to travel with the team.

There are a few groups that do a overnight trip. But we might do 5 to 7 a year. With our regional events, off season events and outreach activities.

Here’s Bloomington’s policy. Longer notice period but just two one page forms plus items that are reusable year to tear.

Actually… I kinda have to do most of this for work.

Granted, the system is simpler: I start by describing what we’re doing to my boss, prep a one or two paragraph high level description, and submit that to him. Then he goes and submits approvals from one or more people above if needed.

During travel, everything just gets charged to one credit card, and we collect receipts as we go.

When I get home, I scan in all receipts, and match them up to the charges to the card. I basically fill out an online spreadsheet justifying what each charge was for, and attaching a receipt if the cost is higher than some threshold. Then it goes off to the Central Bureaucracy and all sorts of people get a crack at approvals and whatnot. Assuming it’s all approved, the company reimburses the credit card company.

It collects most of the same info you’re collecting, but in (what appears to be) a more efficient fashion.

This is done for a whole slew of reasons… mostly related to making sure you didn’t just pocket the money and run away, as well as to give the tax people lots of paper trail to squeeze exemptions and deductions out of the data.

All that being said. Really sounds to me like you need to get in touch with someone in the know, explain your burning platform - 30 pages of forms and months of approvals to get the school to disperse. how much, $3000 ?

Ask to see if you can find one or two “linchpin” people in the system to figure out what they really need from you. If there’s a chance you can get by with one set of approvals from the right person, one payout to an account you control, and one report you make to prove how the money was spent.

Are football coaches, performing arts directors, and academic trip leaders doing this?


Most other activities do not do overnight trips. But yes, anybody that has an overnight trip is supposed to be going through this process.

Well, there’s the defined process, and then there’s reality. Might be worth confirming whether the two are actually aligned or not…

This is pretty normal when traveling on other peoples money. At work it is called an expense report. :slight_smile:

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There’s a difference between “this is why I was sent and this is what I spent” and “here’s 30 pages of what I expect to spend before I can get approval to go”.

Ideally, the existing process can be simplified slightly (X students, Y adults, reason for travel, reason why it’s overnight, expected costs for transit, lodging, and food) and then a more detailed report can be filed with difference notes.


@snoman This is a CYA policy that was developed by the district to ensure that the district is not responsible if things go sideways.

If you are a school based team you live by district rules.

They’re rewriting the rules, per the first post.

Which means he’s keen to get them loosened to an appropriate level, which may be somewhat less burdensome than the current. But knowing what an appropriate level is…


Before I answer, I must confess that we have a wonderful relationship with our school’s admin and the district office.
We have a single form to complete.
It requests the following questions:

    • Purpose of trip
    • Location of event
    • Number of days
    • Number of students attending
    • Cost per student
    • Who is paying for the sub
    • Who is paying for the transportation

Overnight travel must be approved by the School Board. I usually assume that we will attend Championship, so I submit requests for our 2 regionals & the Championship immediately after kickoff (we haven’t attended Championship since 2018).
Our funds are managed by the school, which we have direct control over. Since we are not an athletic team, the Athletic Director is not part of our hierarchy. Our student fees and donations are placed into the same account.
We’ve had both School Admin and District Admin attend our in-state regionals (Myrtle Bleach & Anderson, SC).

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I was responding to Gerthworm’s comment not so much the OPs issue. On one level or another the school has a duty to insure the trip has an educational purpose and is safe. I have already given what little advice I have on the subject.