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Cutting into field trips

The Goldenrod Historical Center showcases 100 years of history for the small community, which is in Orange and Seminole counties.

The Goldenrod Historical Center showcases 100 years of history for the small community, which is in Orange and Seminole counties.

Sarah Wilson

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For Marie Burch, the contents of the Goldenrod Historical Center, where she volunteers, are not just relics of the past, but a family scrapbook.

Inside a glass case is a photo of her husband, Haywood Earl Burch, next to a certificate he was awarded after surviving the atomic bomb testing in the Bikini Islands in the 1950s.

Above that hangs a framed photo of her father Robinson C. Smith, a Goldenrod resident since the 1920s, from his military days serving in World War II.

Her mother’s maiden name, Loti Rouse, is commemorated by Rouse Road in East Orlando.

Burch is living lineage of the history of the community of Goldenrod — the place’s history is her history.

It’s this history that the Goldenrod Historical Center, located in the renovated former Goldenrod fire station, was designed to preserve and display to educate younger generations. To do so, the center is beginning to seek out grants and funding to allow local elementary schools to send students to the center on field trips.

Lack of funding from the local school systems has led the center, as well as many other local frequented field trip destinations, to find outside money to fuel field trip programs.

Sharri Bobinski, Orange County Public Schools spokeswoman, said spending allocated toward field trip funding was just one of many things that has been cut over the last three years in order for the district to make up a nearly $170 million budget gap.

She said this year the district reduced or eliminated some specific district funded field trips, such as Biz Kids and Mead Gardens.

“The expenditure was just over $500,000 in savings for the district,” she said.

Bobinski also said some United Arts-funded trips have also been reduced.

United Arts of Central Florida is one of the primary outside sources of funding that many local cultural educational centers apply to in order to receive funding. These include the Orange County Regional History Center, the Orlando Science Center and 33 other locations in Central Florida.

Jen Cipolla, marketing manager for the History Center, said they receive about $26,000 worth of funding from United Arts to offset some of the costs the center accumulates hosting nearly 40,000 students a year.

“Our field trip numbers have held steady,” she said.

Cipolla said it is likely that the History Center has been spared from budget cuts because they comply with fourth grade history curriculum standards. According to the United Arts website, these include meeting Sunshine State Standards and FCAT Reading Comprehension Strands.

Jeff Stanford, public relations director for the Orlando Science Center, which also receives partial funding from United Arts, said through some adaptations to the center’s field trip program — including incorporating FCAT and Sunshine State Standards — the numbers of schools attending the center has improved.

“In general, our field trip numbers are up slightly over last year,” he said. “This increase is due to the Science Center being open to customizing the field trip experience to the school’s needs as opposed to offering a very structured opportunity as we have in previous years.”

In order to be considered for United Arts funding, each center must go through an application process. This is one way the Goldenrod Historical Center may consider looking at for funding in the coming months. The Historical Society will discuss further plans at their quarterly meeting, scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 21.

The Goldenrod Historical Center holds more than Marie Burch’s history, but the history of an entire community. This is the same history Goldenrod will gather to celebrate on Saturday, Oct. 23 with its annual Goldenrod Parade and Festival.

From its days as a rural farm town, to its transition into suburbia, more than a hundred years of Goldenrod history are capsulated in this small former firehouse. If Burch, and the other members of the Goldenrod Historical Society and Chamber of Commerce, have their way, it is a history that will be passed on to many generations for years to come.