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How much do Lebanon County schools spend on their boards?

Written by Marylouise Sholly/Lebanon Daily News | Jan 16, 2016 3:11 PM
elco_school_lebanon.jpg

Elco High School. File Photo.(Photo: Michael K. Dakota--Lebanon Daily News)

The costs range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars

(Undated) -- Public schools in Lebanon County have different attitudes about the necessity of continuing education for their school board members, reflected in the budget earmarked for seminars or conferences for their boards.

The Elco school board earlier this week granted approval for five school board members and the district's superintendent to attend the National School Board Association conference in Boston on April 7-12 at a cost of approximately $12,000.

A few of Elco's board members, including the recently elected Jocelyn Stahl and Ray Ondrusek, as well as long-time member Jadell Souders, voted against sending the five board members to the conference, stating cost as the reason.

Stahl said, by her reasoning, the trip would cost anywhere from $12,000 to $16,000. She also questioned if the value of the education received by the board could match the cost of the trip.

Superintendent David Zuilkoski put travel expenses at the more conservative $12,000.

Elco has $35,000 budgeted for board expenses, Zuilkoski said, but that includes coverage for litigation, among other things, as well as board travel expenses.

With all board expenses lumped together, it's difficult to separate exactly how much of Elco's budget is specifically for board travel.

The five other public school districts in the county have budgeted between $500 and $6,000 for 2015-16 for board seminars and conferences. Their spokesmen said that the Pennsylvania School Boards Association conference, held locally in Hershey, is an ideal way for school board members to gain greater insight and bring back ideas for their district.

The Palmyra Area School District has budgeted $500 for board travel to seminars and conferences, according to Darcy Brenner-Smith, the district's director of business affairs. No members of Palmyra's school board will be traveling to the Boston conference this spring.

The Lebanon School District has $6,000 budgeted for the school board in case of conference needs, according to Superintendent Marianne Bartley.

"We typically have $6,000 budgeted, but we don't necessarily use that. It depends on different circumstances," Bartley said. "For example, there may be a year when board members are interested in attending the National School Board Association conference and that would be a little bit more expensive. So we might need the money for that purpose.

"More often than not, however, the board stays close to home," Bartley added. "They might want to go to the Pennsylvania School Board Association Hershey conference or different types of things at IU-13, so we usually don't spend the full amount."

No Lebanon School District board members are attending the national conference this year.

The Cornwall-Lebanon School District has $2,500 budgeted for board travel and seminars, said Kurt Phillips, director of business affairs.

"We do have a minimal amount, and we've held it at that ($2,500) for a number of years," Phillips said. "In the past seven years, the most we've spent on educational expenses for the board was $500, but most years it's been $200," Phillips said. "If our board members go to any seminars, they are usually local."

No Cornwall-Lebanon board members are attending the Boston school board conference, he said.

At Annville-Cleona, business manager Martha Kew said the entire travel budget for school board members for 2015-2016 is $1,000.

"We normally appropriate that amount, but this year, no one has requested the funds for a trip so far," Kew said. "Regarding seminars that affect school board members, they may go to the PSBA conference for training, but the funding is not used extensively for trips."

No Annville-Cleona board members have requested to attend the Boston conference this year.

In the Northern Lebanon School District, $500 is budgeted annually for the school board members' conference expenses, according to district business manager Dan Heckman.

Even with the $500 annual amount for expenses, "it doesn't mean it will all be used," Heckman said.

No Northern Lebanon board member has asked to attend the Boston conference at this time, Heckman said.


This article comes to us through a partnership between WITF and Lebanon Daily News.

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