Laney group meeting at resort hotel

Group of 85 heads to Ritz Carlton on Lake Oconee for overnight training

Thursday, July 29, 2010 3:00 PM
Last updated 3:05 PM
  • Follow Education

A two-day, one-night "team building" retreat at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee has been approved for the staff of Lucy C. Laney Comprehensive High School as part of a federal school improvement grant the school received last month.
The retreat – which will involve 85 faculty and staff members, occurring today and Friday – will cost $12,458. The site is where country music star Carrie Underwood recently got married, and according to the hotel's Web site the location was named among the World’s 500 Best Hotels in Travel + Leisure Magazine in 2008.
School officials are quick to note that the retreat was part of the federal grant and that its cost falls well below a budgeted amount of $35,000 that the grant had allowed.
“The grant proposal budgeted up to $35,000.00 for this retreat, which was approved by the state,” states an e-mail sent by Richmond County schools spokesman Louis Svehla. “In negotiation with several sites, the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee in Greensboro, Georgia, offered the best hotel rates, acceptable food service costs and room meeting rates.”
Svehla said that the normal room rate for this time of year at the Ritz-Carlton is $244 per person. “However, for this training session the discounted room rate will be $70 per person or $140 for a room for two people (double occupancy),” Svehla stated in the e-mail. “The hotel is waiving all meeting room rentals.”
The retreat comes as part of a turnaround reform model Laney is having to undertake in accepting more than $1 million in federal school improvement funds for the coming school year - an initiative of the Obama administration.
The turnaround model requires the school to replace half its staff and have them reassigned to other schools. Several of those positions have been accounted for through attrition and some teachers being reassigned from an eighth-grade academy that Laney won’t have this school year.
“Now that the selection of staff is nearing completion, the staff will be required to attend the retreat,” Svehla stated. “At this retreat, there will be an agenda and various activities designed to enable the newly selected and returning faculty and staff members to become fully oriented with the vision and mission of the school relative to the implementation of the Turnaround Model of the School Improvement Grant at Lucy C. Laney High School.”
The $12,458 cost of the retreat, Svehla stated, includes lodging, several meals and meeting rooms for the 85 faculty and staff, which equals $147 a person for the two days and one night stay.
“Accordingly, while the name of the hotel carries a perception that there may be some added expense, in reality, the rates are very reasonable and discounted after thorough negotiations,” he stated.
Two other Richmond County schools that also received more than $1 million each from the school improvement grant, though, aren't traveling for their retreat. Svehla confirmed that Glenn Hills and Josey Highs will be holding their gatherings at their respective schools.
Svehla said the decision about where the retreats were to be held was left up to each schools' principal.
Glenn Hills Principal Wayne Frazier said he chose to keep his school's retreat local because he'd rather use all grant money in the classroom and in professional development of teachers. He said doing a retreat at his school is also better because it puts the teachers in the environment they'll be working in.
"My leadership style does not lend itself to that type of retreat, with the present economy crisis," Frazier said of his opting not to travel or stay over night somewhere for a retreat.
Svehla said Laney's situation is different from Josey and Glenn HIlls, though, noting that only Laney is having half of its staff reassigned, and only Laney is having to train for the first time in some new processes involving college board training and a plan called America's Choice.
"It’s a way to get away with each other and really form a team,” he said.
Columbia County school officials say they can't recall ever sending a group to a Ritz-Carlton for training or a retreat and lately have been trying to keep retreats and other training local unless the training is only offered at an out-of-county location.

Comments (64) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Just My Opinion
6304
Points
Just My Opinion 07/29/10 - 03:37 pm
0
0
When you have "free money"

When you have "free money" (like dani said) burning a hole in your pocket, you gotta spend it! And you might as well spend it on something that's nice and shiny, right? Okay, I can certainly understand the need to get together and build unity at the school, but this is such a bad stewardship of OUR money! I think all teachers who were either laid off, not hired, or furloughed should be infuriated with the way this money is just being wasted!

seenitB4
98653
Points
seenitB4 07/29/10 - 03:55 pm
0
0
I can see why they didn't

I can see why they didn't want to go to NYC....just read the hotels there are having a bad case of the bedbugs....seems they can't figure out why....maybe global travel they say.

Cestlavie
147
Points
Cestlavie 07/29/10 - 03:55 pm
0
0
People, can you read? Yes,

People, can you read? Yes, it's federal grant money, but it was a part of the grant request, and the amount budgeted was approved by the federal government. Now, I don't necessarily believe that a trip to the Ritz is in the staff's best interests, but stop making it sound like they are way out of line. I'm no fan of Ms. Beasley, but let's keep the criticism geared toward things of importance.

Real E Bugged
0
Points
Real E Bugged 07/29/10 - 03:57 pm
0
0
“The paper is trying to stir

“The paper is trying to stir the pot and get certain people pumped up... The federal grant gave Laney a budget of 35k and paid for the retreat.......”

“The federal government gave Laney a budget of 35k, but the school only spent 12k....”

Countyman I don’t care if the money came the federal government, the state, or great grandma’s mattress. You are missing the fact that is should have been put in to the school. Teaching materials and repairs are more important than a trip to the Ritz.

There will be more distractions at that resort than there will be anything else. Heck we might even get a scandal out it. Those trips can get pretty interesting once someone has a few to many in the hotel lounge.

The point being, they should have taken the example of the other schools and stayed home. They would have been able to stay more focused and really start preparing for the year. And the tab would be a tenth of what they are spending.

Fiat_Lux
16445
Points
Fiat_Lux 07/29/10 - 04:02 pm
0
0
It all kind of fits. If

It all kind of fits. If Obutthead can take 400 staffers, including five physicians and his whole kitchen staff, for a 3-day trip to England, what's the big deal about this little jaunt?

After all, everybody knows Augusta has absolutely nothing to offer in the way of seminar/convention/hospitality venues. I mean, why support our local economy when they can share our tax money with the Ritz-Carlton, a sad little company that everyone knows is sorely in need of financial rescue?

follower
98
Points
follower 07/29/10 - 04:05 pm
0
0
Blaming the school is only

Blaming the school is only part of the problem. Considering the budget crisis, why was that kind of money appropriated to begin with? What does that say about the legislature? Oh, they aren't doing to well in Augusta, let's send some money for a team building trip. That's the ticket? Problem solved. [sic]

Let's keep up with the progress for the year and see what was accomplished. Holding your breathe will result in death.

corgimom
38775
Points
corgimom 07/29/10 - 04:27 pm
0
0
Countyman, what did the AC

Countyman, what did the AC say that wasn't true? How is it biased?

And by the way, Countyman, if you had been paying attention, you would understand that the AP program at Laney is now in question- because it's unknown if the new teachers will be qualified to teach the classes.

corgimom
38775
Points
corgimom 07/29/10 - 04:29 pm
0
0
Maybe they were afraid if

Maybe they were afraid if they had it in Augusta, the hotels would be padlocked when they got there.

Chillen
17
Points
Chillen 07/29/10 - 04:31 pm
0
0
Corgi, the Laney teachers

Corgi, the Laney teachers will be qualified to teach AP classes. I'm "SURE" that's what this retreat is all about. Improving teacher competency.

corgimom
38775
Points
corgimom 07/29/10 - 04:34 pm
0
0
Countyman, you aren't

Countyman, you aren't concerned about AYP? Are you really that clueless?

If Laney doesn't make significant progress towards achieving AYP, the state is going to take it over.

So yes, AYP most certainly is a cause for concern. Except for you, that is.

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 07/29/10 - 04:45 pm
0
0
I suppose quoting Mr. Frazier

I suppose quoting Mr. Frazier was the Chronicle's way of trying to get him to admit that driving any distance could be a problem for him. While I commend the school for holding the costs down at the Ritz, I'm wondering why this couldn't be held in Richmond County to benefit local business and County tax coffers?

Another question, who paid the travel expense of the participants?

Next time hold this type of retreat AFTER you achieve your goal. At least then you could say it's a reward based on performance.

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 07/29/10 - 04:58 pm
0
0
Absolutely Ridiculous no

Absolutely Ridiculous no matter how you try to spin the "low costs" and "savings". In typical government fashion, they don't understand the only way to "save" money is not to spend it. Teacher layoff's, furloughs, needs in classrooms, etc. and instead we will be providing a select few teachers with a retreat to include a 5 star hotel room and meals. School Board Members, PLEASE take action NOW!!

dichotomy
37655
Points
dichotomy 07/29/10 - 05:07 pm
0
0
Hey, here is your first clue.

Hey, here is your first clue. If Ms. Beasley had any idea of how to build a team there would not be a need for this whole grant fiasco to begin with. Taxpayers, let's open up a big can of Failure and stir in another $1.3 million, AND KEEP THE SAME PERSON IN CHARGE. The Ritz-Carlton retreat is a classic example of the mentality and thought process that put Laney where it is today. Woohoo....Road Trip

powercenter64
15
Points
powercenter64 07/29/10 - 05:18 pm
0
0
There is no and I mean NO

There is no and I mean NO defending this trip. I don't care if you are a Democrat or Republican, a Rush Limbaugh or Alan Colmes listener, black or white. The fact of the matter is that there is only right and wrong. The arrogance that this trip drips with is disgusting. That money should be used in order to further students in a depressed area of town. Why not use that money to charter those same buses and take students on recruiting trips to colleges and universities around the state. Show students that the only way out is through an education. Now think about that tonight while you are eating dinner and smooshing it up at a 5 star resort. I applaud the leadership at Glenn Hills and Josey for putting their students first. One more thing, lets not make this into a black and white issue like all things in Augusta. We need to be concerned about educating students; an educated society is a rich society!

Contrarian Coach
0
Points
Contrarian Coach 07/29/10 - 05:41 pm
0
0
powercenter64, good post

powercenter64, good post

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/29/10 - 05:45 pm
0
0
Powercenter, you were first

Powercenter, you were first in bringing this up on here. Good job!

trimmy
29
Points
trimmy 07/29/10 - 05:55 pm
0
0
Times being what they are, I
Unpublished

Times being what they are, I can't understand spending money on something like a retreat. Why don't they retreat to a local gym and discuss their business. Will there be a news person there to report everything? When they get back, someone needs to tell the taxpayers what they learned at the retreat about improving the school. I'll bet it's nothing new. Party on, faculty!

SCres
0
Points
SCres 07/29/10 - 06:49 pm
0
0
SC has its problems but I

SC has its problems but I have never seen such hatred towards a principal. As an outsider looking in, I am embarrassed and saddened by the open display of hate. I also think it is quite comical! I have read a lot on this school and I now know more than I care to know about the concern the county truly has. I have yet to read or hear about how these changes will help the CHILDREN! The old way was obviously not working. The children were failing and unable to pass the state test. Are you kidding me! Let's be clear...the world is a harsh place and it can be even more painful to an uneducated minority. So, if its the Ritz Carlton or a motel, let the people who are truly trying to make a difference and not sitting at home moaning about "woe is me" do their job. That is unless you have CORRECTIVE criticism and can OFFER another solution.

apex24
0
Points
apex24 07/29/10 - 07:31 pm
0
0
Obama money, Obama money!!!!

Obama money, Obama money!!!!

lsmith
105
Points
lsmith 07/29/10 - 07:32 pm
0
0
Did anyone expect anything
Unpublished

Did anyone expect anything different from the Laney staff on this retreat. Perhaps the government should take over Laney and be done with it. Unless someone "cooks the books" this time next year the record at that school will most likely not be any better. Of course Obama has a lot of idle Chinese money to use for these type useless programs.

edwarra
0
Points
edwarra 07/29/10 - 07:35 pm
0
0
I used to work there and I

I used to work there and I can say more than 50% of the staff was replaced.

powercenter64
15
Points
powercenter64 07/29/10 - 07:40 pm
0
0
The "CORRECTIVE" criticism is

The "CORRECTIVE" criticism is this, stay in Augusta, have your "team building here, save the money and use it on your students, and make a difference in the community. I believe that point has been stated before.

The open display of hate is not for a person it is for the situation at hand. I don't think the majority of people in this discussion have a "woe is me" attitude. People are just tired of seeing money thrown at a situation with little results. How many more generations need to be lost to poor education and poverty before we see that only through hard work, self reliance, and dedication will we as a people move forward. That message needs to be passed on to the community. In fact, the only team building that needs to be done at this point is in the community and not on a lake.

mystery30815
18
Points
mystery30815 07/29/10 - 07:46 pm
0
0
Doesn't the board of

Doesn't the board of education have really nice meeting facilities? Seriously, shouldn't the money have been used directly for the students?

mystery30815
18
Points
mystery30815 07/29/10 - 07:47 pm
0
0
duplicate

duplicate

frednasc
9
Points
frednasc 07/29/10 - 08:00 pm
0
0
bringing the AP Academy to

bringing the AP Academy to Laney is a ploy to gerrymander their AYP numbers...when you pull AYP level kids from the other county schools and put them in Laney the success rate for Laney goes up and everybody will think performance is improving when all you have done is tweak the gene pool at the expense of the other schools where the numbers will go down due to loss of high performing students......

iLove
626
Points
iLove 07/29/10 - 08:03 pm
0
0
@powercenter64 great
Unpublished

@powercenter64 great posts!

Sigh @ Augusta

Taylor B
5
Points
Taylor B 07/29/10 - 08:01 pm
0
0
Mystery, good point. I always

Mystery, good point. I always thought that the downtown facility was a waste.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 07/29/10 - 08:31 pm
0
0
Lucy C. Laney Comprehensive

Lucy C. Laney Comprehensive High School. Great name. Does anyone think it's better then the regular Lucy Laney? How about saving all of the money and wasted time and just add some more complements to the school name. I vote for Lucy C. Laney Really Good Comprehensive High School for Really Smart Students. It has a lot more words than the current school name and it will increase the learning by the students as good as the "team building retreat" at the Ritz.
Until the teachers union decides the 3 r's are more important than assigning "self esteem", we'll have the same product out of government schools that we have now. I don't think this will happen until vouchers are available to every parent in the nation.
No competition, no improvement.

augusta citizen
10068
Points
augusta citizen 10/19/12 - 02:56 pm
0
0
..

..

showboat
369
Points
showboat 07/29/10 - 08:54 pm
0
0
he was @the VFW sip! sip
Unpublished

he was @the VFW sip! sip tonite!!!!!!!

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

City Ink: New board means more work for me

First Mayor-elect Hardie Davis will be sworn in, and the very next day the work will begin. Commissioners will meet and the gavel will fall. It will be a brand new day at City Hall.
Search Augusta jobs