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Local groups come to middle school's rescue after tour company loses funds

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- Discovery Tours left another local school trip high and dry.

Columbus City School’s Ridgeview Middle was set to go to Chicago next week and all the money paid by parents is nowhere to be found.

Now, several local groups have come to the rescue.

Columbus City Schools held a special meeting to accept the donations and give some themselves.

Seventy-four Ridgeview Middle School 7th and 8th graders were signed up for the Chicago trip. Parents scrambled to recover the money before good Samaritans stepped forward and paid all of the expenses for the trip.

On Friday, the school board just voted to make up the difference of the nearly $30,000 total cost for the trip, minus $22,000 donated by local unions.

Lori Hoffman’s daughter Olivia was one of the students who paid for the bus trip to Chicago.

“It was up in the air," she said. "We didn’t know what to do. It was panic almost, we didn’t know how we were going to get our money back,"

She and Olivia saved up and paid with a credit card for the $750 cost.

“We had been looking forward to this trip throughout the year, and right after we found out who our roommates were and we got the letter,” Olivia said.

The Firefighters Foundation Local 67 donated $10,000, the FOP Capital City Lodge 9 gave $2,000, school classified staff gave $5,000, and the teacher’s union gave $2,500 along with the Education First Credit Union and Prime Tours Dublin, who reduced the per student trip costs from $695 to $399.

It feels very good to know we were able to help," said David Burt, a spokesperson for the firefighter's union. "I am a Columbus Public School kid from years ago and with my wife teaching there it is nice to be able to give back."

The Columbus School Board gave nearly $8,000 of non-taxpayer dollars. Funds came from the student activity budget.

Hoffman said this has been a life’s lesson.

“This company took their money, our money and I just want to say we have these wonderful unions stepping up to donate money, so that is a good learning moment how good the world can be,” Hoffman said.

She said the parents and students thank those who donated.

Hundreds of parents have complained to the Ohio Attorney General. Friday, he filed a lawsuit again Discovery Tours and its owner Alfred Cipolletti.


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