Franklin Junior/Senior High School’s BEST Robotics team, N’ERGI, is heading to Denver for a chance at the championship title after board members voted to foot the bill on Monday.

The board voted to send the team of 45 students and five chaperones by plane at a cost of $31,174.

The motion passed 7 to 1, with Sabrina Backer as the sole dissenter.

The N’ERGI team faced heartbreak at the regional competition in Grove City earlier this month when it came two points away from the third-place spot and an invitation to the Denver BEST Regional Championships.

However, in what N’ERGI adviser Rene Miller described Monday as a “twist of fate,” the team was offered a seat at the table when it became clear the original third-place team would not be able to make the trek.

The downfall, Miller explained, is the invitation comes with a hefty price tag. With the competition looming on the first weekend of December, it leaves the students with little time to raise the money.

“We were hoping the board would find some way to support us and help us we are so limited with our time,” Miller said.

The board was presented with two options: send the team by plane with a travel time of a maximum six hours one way, or bus, which came at a cost of $27,072.70. The bus trip would have included a total travel time of 56 hours over four days.

Miller told the board fundraising would begin immediately with a look toward existing sponsors to help defray some of the cost.

Before the board could vote, Backer raised concerns about treating “once in a lifetime” opportunities for students in the same way.

“I think if we’re going to support robotics we need to support madrigal (choir) certainly this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but so is singing in Carnegie Hall,” Backer said referring to a five-day, four-night trip to New York City in May to sing with several other high school and university choirs at Carnegie Hall.

That trip was approved by the board in January and will receive no compensation from the district. The cost per student is $1,600. There are 20 to 25 students in the choir.

A small back-and-forth broke out between Backer and board President Brian Spaid after he asked Backer if she would elaborate on her comments.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said.

Backer said she would prefer that choral director Sarah Gilbert explain the matter to the board.

In other business

— The board accepted a total of $7,750 donated by a local business and a church to pay down student lunch debt. Superintendent Pamela Dye said with the donations, districtwide debt now stands at $350.

— A trunk-or-treat held Saturday at the high school brought in 30-plus trunks and over 350 treaters, Franklin Area Education Association President James Ralph said. Two teachers, Megan Hiles and Matt Gustafson, came up with the idea and organized it in less than two weeks. The event was also attended by two Valley Grove School District teachers.