Richmond County school board questions increased travel costs



Although the majority of travel costs are covered by grant funding rather than the district’s general budget, Richmond County teachers, administrators and board of education members have steadily taken more trips since 2010, prompting some board members to raise questions about efficiency.

School officials spent $441,195 on travel in the 2012-13 school year, of which about $200,200 came out of the general budget. The rest was paid for with grants. That’s up from $291,220 for travel in 2010, with $128,238 of that coming out of the district’s bank account.

Board member Patsy Scott asked Superintendent Frank Roberson on Tuesday to analyze the spending and make sure all travel being done is actually required.

“The Richmond County Board of Education has invested heavily in our staff to attend conferences, and I support professional development … however, I want to make sure that we receive the return on our investment.”

Scott said she wants a report on what is garnered from these trips and whether the training is translating back into the classroom.

Roberson said some of the travel covered by grants is required for the district to maintain the funding. However, with one major federal grant set to run out this summer and another having expired last year, Controller Gene Spires said travel this year will be greatly reduced.

Board member Helen Minchew said she is concerned that the general fund has covered increasingly more of the costs over the years – $72,000 more since 2010.

Minchew said she wants to see that this travel is actually having an impact on student achievement, and if it’s not, changes must be made.

“I’m concerned about the general fund for obvious reasons,” she said. “I think we need to know that these are required.”

Roberson said he will have a report for the board about travel at the monthly meeting in Febru­ary.