Board members varied in the amount of trips they cost the district last year, from David Morgan, who billed the district nothing, to Scott Sweeney, who apent $4,541.68 for trips to Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Board members Kathleen Angelucci and Tim Stultz have suggested three changes to the policy governing board member “development opportunities,” which outlines training and legal requirements for the elected officials.
One suggestion includes the board voting on the amount of reimbursements the group as a whole will expend annually on these trips. Another includes reporting back to the board what members learn at conferences or events that are not required.
In fiscal 2013, which spanned July 1, 2012 to June 30, the board allotted itself $11,000 for travel and training, a budget it exceeded by $1,289.19.
“It was my understanding within the policy that board members are paid or reimbursed for attendance at required training, not picking and choosing,” Angelucci said Wednesday. “Just because there’s $10,000, doesn’t mean that we have to use it and especially when we are talking about the financial times that we find ourselves in right now.”
Angelucci said it’s fiscally irresponsible and sets a “bad, bad precedent” for the board to spend more than its budget.
“This doesn’t preclude you from going anywhere, but go on your own dime,” she told board colleagues.
David Banks, whose training and travel last year totaled $4,447.51 in expenses and included attending conferences in San Diego and Savannah, doesn’t agree with the changes.
“To me, it’s not necessary,” Banks said. “We are elected officials. We aren’t children. One board member can’t tell another board member what to do.”
Banks said he welcomes board members to ask him about what he’s learned while at trainings like the $920 National School Boards Association Conference he went to in San Diego in April.
“I don’t see a need for this change at all,” Banks said. “This (budget) hasn’t been abused.”
The California conference was the second national conference Banks has attended since joining the board in 2008. He went to Boston in 2012.
“You almost need to go personally to see what all is available, but there are several hundred sessions that are available to you when you’re there,” he said. “This year I was very interested in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) programs that other school districts are implementing and some of the vendor promotions.”
Banks said he is considering attending the same national session in 2014 in New Orleans.
When board members travel they receive a per diem amount for food each day. Banks said that is around $36. They are also allowed to turn in any travel and registration receipts for reimbursement.
For the San Diego conference, his travel expenses were $1,989.95 and he was reimbursed $1,143.55.
Other costs expended by the board include:
• Board Chair Randy Scamihorn: Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) New Board Member Orientation and Conference, $605; GSBA Board Chair Workshop, Athens, $210; GSBA Conference, Savannah, $630
• Vice Chair Brad Wheeler: GSBA New Board Member Orientation, $295
• Angelucci: GSBA School Law and Annual Conference, Atlanta, $520
• Banks: GSBA School Law and Annual Conference, $520; NSBA Conference, San Diego, $2,909.95; GSBA Conference, $1,017.56
• Stultz: GSBA School Law and Annual Conference, $520
• Scott Sweeney: GSBA School Law and Annual Conference, $520; 2012 Opportunity Fairfax Strategic Leadership Conference in Virginia, $2,500; and Federal Relations Network Conference in Washington, D.C., $2,041.68.
The board failed to reach consensus on how to word a policy change, so Stultz and Angelucci asked that a vote be postponed until August.