How Much Traveling Does A Cash Strapped District Need?

At this week's Beaumont Unified School Board meeting, the board will be the voting to authorize the budget for the 2012/2013 school year. After approving the budget, the board will considered the BRC's (Budget Review Committee's) recommendations presented in April's workshop. As far as I can tell, the budget assumes certain recommendations will be approved and they are already calculated in the budget the board will approve before officially considering any of the BRC recommendations. I guess the superintendent already knows how 3 of the board members are going to vote.

One of the recommendations they will be considering, would reduce the district's travel and conference budget by 25%, about $33,000. This will still leave about $100,000 in the budget for travel and conferences. I believe this is too much. I think the administration has a responsibility to detail for the board, and parents, what travel and conferences a cash strapped school district is planning for next year.

It seem to me, if the administration has a budget ready for board approval which still prioritizes $100,000 for travel over our kids and our teachers, that someone should ask for an accounting of the planned expenses. I asked for this information earlier this year and I was discredited for asking. I hope one of our elected representatives will ask for a detailed list and make public any results they receive. I can't imagine any travel or conference that our administrators can't do without for two years.

I am sure our teachers and classified staff would have a problem attending any conferences that resulted in the elimination of one of their colleague's income. I will still plan to work, within the board's policies and procedures, to do what I can to direct the travel and conference money to be used to relieve the burden placed on our teachers and kids for the sacrifices they have been told to accept.

*Other interesting issues for this week’s board meeting-*

The board will be recognizing and honoring retiring administrators. I'm not sure of the complete list but I know of two I will miss, Mrs. Goode and Mrs. Hackney.

Mrs. Goode has been an outstanding principal for the kids at Brookside. She has always been honest, respectful and responsive. She always made my wife and I confident she puts our kids' education first. She will be missed by many at Brookside Elementary.

Mrs. Hackney is retiring as the school district's technology manager. She managed the implementation of the district wide technology program. . I found Mrs. Hackney to be a pleasure to work with. She welcomed input from the community and always went out of her way to help me when I've asked.

I believe our out dated computer resources in our high school technology department and the failure to provide adequate computers for the smart boards (the district spent more than $2 million to deploy) are failures of the administration, not Mrs. Hackney. I hope the new technology director will be able to convince Dr. Kayrell and the board that the Measure Z funds earmarked for technology should be spent on projects specifically outlined in the measure and not on any more multi-million dollar sports complexes.

*Speaking of multi-million dollar Measure Z projects…*

The board will be authorizing change orders this week to increase fees paid to contractors working on the high school's classroom expansion project. The agenda documentation indicates the increased fees will be redirected from Bogh Engineering funds. I’m not sure what this all means but, once again, I recommend we keep focused on the distribution of the funds approved for all the district's projects. The superintendent and the board have already spent a considerable portion of the investment voters approved. When the district comes to us for more funding to build schools they say we need, they will have to be able to show us our kids’ resources were responsibly managed on the current projects.