Members surpass budgets for trips

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Richmond County school board members continue to travel even as student field trips and board employee travel are reduced.

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Jack Padgett, the board's legislative liaison, led its members in spending.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Jack Padgett, the board's legislative liaison, led its members in spending.

Four board members have already exceeded their annual travel budgets, according to finance records obtained by The Augusta Chronicle .

Board members Marion Barnes, Eloise Curtis, Jack Padgett and Barbara Pulliam have gone over budget. The budget set aside $2,200 for each board member to travel out of town during the year. That figure was reduced to $1,980 in October when the school board approved 10 percent cuts to most of its budgets.

"As legislative liaison, of course, I spent a lot of time in Atlanta working with the state Legislature," said Mr. Padgett, who has spent $2,724.08, the most of any board member. "I just figured with so much going on in Atlanta, it was important for them to get our side."

For instance, he went to Atlanta for a news conference called by state Rep. Ben Harbin to push for restoring cuts to education funding, Mr. Padgett said. Some of those trips to Atlanta he didn't request reimbursement for.

Mrs. Pulliam said she was unaware she went over budget, but said she also pays out of her own pocket for travel expenses.

"If I go to a school every day, I don't get a dime," she said, adding that she isn't reimbursed for in-town travel. "I feel like I'm giving them more than they're giving me. I always call it a gift because I care about the children of Richmond County."

Most of her travel costs came from training sessions, including conferences for the Georgia School Boards Association and National School Boards Association, which was held this year in Orlando, Fla.

"I thought I was doing what it took to be the best board member I could be, the most effective board member I could be," Mrs. Pulliam said. "Don't get mad at me because the cost of gas is so high. Get mad at George Bush."

State law requires new board members to receive 12 training hours in a year and veteran board members to receive six hours of training.

"We're over because we go to conferences, and some don't go to them," Mrs. Curtis said. "We're supposed to attend those. If I'm over budget, it's because I'm doing what I'm supposed to."

Mr. Barnes did not return a phone message seeking comment Monday.

Finance Committee Chairman Frank Dolan, who has only spent $540, said he gets irritated when members exceed their budgets.

"I take my job seriously about saving money," he said, adding that he has paid out of his pocket for some of his trips to Atlanta.

Five board members -- Mrs. Curtis, Jimmy Atkins, Venus Cain, Helen Minchew and Joe Scott -- have registered for a conference in Savannah next month. Board members said the information they receive from the conferences is valuable.

"We're not there partying," Mrs. Curtis said. "We're in sessions all day."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

BOARD TRAVEL EXPENSES


Individual travel allowances for Richmond County school board members were reduced to $1,980 in October when the board approved 10 percent cuts to most of its budgets. Here's what board members have spent on travel this school year:

BOARD MEMBER.......TOTAL SPENT


Jimmy Atkins.......$540


Marion Barnes.......$2,271.38


Venus Cain.......$577.56


Eloise Curtis.......$2,020.68


Frank Dolan.......$540


Alex Howard.......$465


Helen Minchew.......$655.17


Jack Padgett.......$2,724.08


Barbara Pulliam.......$2,704.49


Joe Scott.......$1,846.52

Source: Richmond County Board of Education

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nonumberplease
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nonumberplease 05/06/08 - 03:49 am
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So, Barbara Pulliam thinks

So, Barbara Pulliam thinks George Bush raised gas prices, just
another democrat that doesn't have a clue!

stadry
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stadry 05/06/08 - 05:05 am
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there's certainly enough

there's certainly enough proof that no one, incl geo. bush, is unable to reduce gas prices,,, some retraining for ms. pullman's in order - i suggest the arena board for her enlightenment,,, there's a cure for ignorance but stupidity's often fatal, especially a leader's when visited on students.

debby
12
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debby 05/06/08 - 05:13 am
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The taxpayers of Richmond

The taxpayers of Richmond County should also get irritated when board members exceed their budgets. Why though, is there such a large difference between the big spenders and those who have only spent a few hundred?

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/06/08 - 05:51 am
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Mrs Pulliam shouldn't be

Mrs Pulliam shouldn't be allowed to speak in public.

class1
299
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class1 05/06/08 - 06:10 am
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I guess the board members

I guess the board members need to take a course on how to stay within a budget like most families.

pofwe
5
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pofwe 05/06/08 - 06:24 am
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Me thinketh, Mrs. Pulliam's

Me thinketh, Mrs. Pulliam's "self-importance" is exceeded only by her lack of humility. e.g. "I just figured with so much going on in Atlanta, it was important for them to get our side." Who is them? Legislatures? The Braves? The NAACP? Can you spell rigmarole? How many times must the people pay for you to drive yourself to Atlanta & play the role of a "poser?"

christian134
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christian134 05/06/08 - 06:26 am
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I have a novel idea to all

I have a novel idea to all those who travel for the "good of the children"...Stay home and actually try helping out a school system that is in desperate need of overhauling....Your travel time is not essential to the children when you can stay home and make use of a fax machine to relay ideas...But then again that isn't any fun now is it.....

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
7640
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 05/06/08 - 06:47 am
0
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A lot of this training can be

A lot of this training can be done by computer. HELLO

shivas
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shivas 05/06/08 - 06:51 am
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That' right patriciathoms.

That' right patriciathoms. only those with whom you agree are allowed to speak publicly.

mayhem2020
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mayhem2020 05/06/08 - 07:02 am
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ms pulliam, how how stupid is

ms pulliam, how how stupid is stupid, "blame George Bush"! and you, a school board membered--figures!!!!

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 05/06/08 - 07:07 am
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Barbara keep up the good

Barbara keep up the good work, and if they start to ticky tack, charge them per diem for your travel. It seems no one cares that these members are using their own gas to go to and fro to schools etc. Shouldn't all travel be approved by the Supt before the individual can go, maybe they need to institute that.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 05/06/08 - 07:07 am
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NONUMBERPLEASE should be

NONUMBERPLEASE should be nobrainsplease. Only simple minded people try to play politic with everything under the sun. I bet if we did away with the party system, half of you would have a stroke trying to decide for yourselves.

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 05/06/08 - 07:08 am
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All of that money they spent

All of that money they spent they could have put it towards gas for the school buses, better computers for the schools, repairs needed or they could have saved it.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 05/06/08 - 07:10 am
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If you do not who them are,

If you do not who them are, you are the one with the problem. I am sure that the " Them" she was talking about, are not the ones posting on this site.

getagrip
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getagrip 05/06/08 - 07:21 am
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There are 10 board members.

There are 10 board members. The new ones need the training. The account overall for board travel is not over the budget-10 x 1980 is 19,800. In total, they have collectively underspent the budgeted amount. Do the math. This article is truly making a mountain out of a molehill....and the small amounts individually they may be over in travel will certainly not make a difference in the bus gas account. Get concerned about real abuses in spending.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 05/06/08 - 07:25 am
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cbbp had the right response.

cbbp had the right response. All of the "board training" can be done on computer. I'll bet even shivas and Hypo understand that. It's not partisan, it's plain economics.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 05/06/08 - 07:42 am
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PT, I know it is hard being a

PT, I know it is hard being a know it all. But be careful, all that patting yourself on the back just might cause you some medical issues later on. In Behavioral Science you are taught that people like you have to put others down in order to feel good about themselves. I really do inderstand that it is not your fault. You cannot help if you have a mental problem. Even SHIVAS and I can understand that.

Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 05/06/08 - 08:00 am
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Hypo vs PT in the meeting of

Hypo vs PT in the meeting of the minds score = PT 1000
Hypo .01

Not close.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 05/06/08 - 08:04 am
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Hypo, I'm not a know it all.

Hypo, I'm not a know it all. Maybe it just seems that way because of your perspective.

classyfox
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classyfox 05/06/08 - 08:31 am
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It's sad that adults are

It's sad that adults are going after each other verbally like that. what are we demonstrating to our children? it's not okay to call each other names, and put down one another like that. Let's be good examples to others and especially to our children. it's okay to disagree, but let's be mature about it. Remember, be ye kind one to another.

Safe at Home
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Safe at Home 05/06/08 - 08:52 am
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These Board Members act like

These Board Members act like they were forced to serve on the School Board. Remember they all ran for election and asked to be put on the Board to SERVE... Serve the children of Richmond County not themselves. If the expense is too much maybe they should let someone who really cares serve on the BOE.

mgr
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mgr 05/06/08 - 08:58 am
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I think they should be teamed

I think they should be teamed up with the Coliseum Authority. They could search for excuses together.

WW1949
19
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WW1949 05/06/08 - 09:00 am
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Everybody likes Atlanta. I

Everybody likes Atlanta. I wonder if it makes them seem like they are doing more when they go there?

godogs
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godogs 05/06/08 - 09:11 am
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I agree that many of the

I agree that many of the meetings today can be done by teleconference or computer. There is no need for all of the travel in this day and time. Also, the schools need to be more creative in their field trips. Why not while we are in this crunch have fun and educational things come to the schools. My son's school recently had Troy Williamson come to the school to talk with them about staying in school and now they are having a Pizza party for the students who behaved during the visit. My son loved it and took something from it. We have so many opportunities right here around us, use them to our benefit and bring activities to the school for now. Don't cut them out, the kids need these but just be more creative. Lastly these board members should have to go to a basic accounting class before they are allowed another dollar out of the budget. Jerry Brigham could hold a class for this crew as well as the commission on spending. He was one of my accounting teachers and I have been balancing million dollar budgets for the state of GA for the last twenty years. Make these people be responsible!

griesella
0
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griesella 05/06/08 - 09:26 am
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classyfox...I doubt that our

classyfox...I doubt that our children are reading this, and anyhow, why spoil the fun? At least it's not for real.

WHATDIDIDO
0
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WHATDIDIDO 05/06/08 - 09:48 am
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ROBERT50, you are not worthy

ROBERT50, you are not worthy of a response. PT, the only ones impressed by you are your cheerleaders. No one likes a know it all, especially when they do not know it all. But whatever it takes to make you feel good about your self.

NicoleKelly
7
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NicoleKelly 05/06/08 - 10:06 am
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So true Hypocrite 2008!!!!

So true Hypocrite 2008!!!! Low self-esteem gets you nowhere...

karmakills123
8
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karmakills123 05/06/08 - 10:12 am
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LOL..at all of you

LOL..at all of you

leapfrogve
0
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leapfrogve 05/06/08 - 10:32 am
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As a parent with a child in a

As a parent with a child in a Richmond county school I have to take offense to Ms.Pulliams remarks about her "giving them more then they're giving me". Ms.Pulliams job is to give not to receive and to help our children get the education they deserve. What does going to Atlanta really do for the children... because I thought the problems were here in Augusta?! I can't tell you when the last time my child went on a field trip was because of budget issues, which isn't a big problem for me, yet the school board members are getting plenty of "field trips". And last time I checked President Bush didn't pull gas prices out of the air...oil companies do that and then in order for him to get any laws passed to help with the fuel taxes he has to get congress to pass the law. Let us all remember that congress is a democrat majority so lay the blame in the correct house! Even my fifth grader knows that the President can't do much of anything without the congress' approval.

Rozzie2003
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Rozzie2003 05/06/08 - 10:35 am
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Mrs. Pulliam, you don't need

Mrs. Pulliam, you don't need to go to the schools as often as you do. Let the school personnel operate the schools. Several teachers have told me that some board members hang around their schools almost daily. Board members are policy makers, not managers.

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