Just a few days ago, some 10 people affiliated with our local school system attended a conference in Tampa,Fl sponsored by the Schlechty Center, based in Louisville,Ky. This is at least the second trip to a Schlechty conference, as a delegation went to Albuquerque,NM last year. Final numbers are not available but the costs will exceed $14,000 since the registration fee alone was $1,400 per person according to a Daily Advance article by Kristin Pitts.
Finances are tight in our local system as they are in most school districts. So, how does one justify the costs incurred on this trip? Of those who attended, four were school board members( out of six total members) , 2 were elementary school principals and four were administrators, including the superintendent and assistant superintendent.
Frankly, I do not know, although I would like to give the attendees the benefit of the doubt. Only one of those attending was available for comment and he acknowledged that cost was an issue. But, he added, if you talked to any who attended this year or last they would say that the conferences were beneficial. That may be true but one wonders no one else could be reached for comment.Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Nine people, several of them school system employees and they could not be reached? Amazing!
Throw this comment in from a member who went to New Mexico last year but not to Tampa this year. Quoting from the Daily Advance, Board member Bill Luton said that last year’s conference stressed transparency and the value of listening to the public. Maybe the transparency part did not sink in so well. A quote from Luton stated,” I can certainly understand why in this economic climate people might be at least concerned about expenditures.” Ya think?
As some of the online comments said, if the system were flush with money, costs would not be an issue. But the system is not flush, the teachers are in a constant struggle for needed supplies and costs are an issue.
When public money is spent, accountability is of the utmost importance and oh yes, transparency. Maybe next year when conference time rolls around, the entourage could be a bit smaller?
Any conferences any closer to home?
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