School board members travel to San Diego - WRBL

School board members travel to San Diego

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Muscogee County School Board members are spending the weekend in San Diego to attend a conference in the wake of financial woes.

Six school board members traveled to the California sunshine for the National School Boards Association conference.

Yesterday Senator Josh McKoon blasted the board for what he called a poor spending choice, saying the board was taking a "vacation" with taxpayer dollars. 

Cathy Williams and Shannon Smallman decided not to go on the trip despite the board spending $895 for their registration fees. Smallman says while conferences are good learning opportunities, now is not the time to be using excess taxpayer dollars.

"I ran on a campaign saying I didn't think it was prudent right now to go out and spend money that we didn't need to spend," says Smallman, "and this was just one of those for me that, as much as I would like to do it, right now it's just not the right thing for me to do."

She adds that the San Diego conference does not count towards the members' mandatory training hours. "For me, we have some other opportunities coming up, and I'd rather take those that count towards the hours I need to be a school board member. This one doesn't and I personally didn't feel the need. But I can understand wanting to go. They are inspiring; there's a lot to learn."

The school board was recently asked to fire sixty two custodians from county middle and high schools and outsource the rest to save money.

Smallman says the board is paying for the traveling members' airfare, hotel stay, and other conference fees. John Wells told News 3 he was paying his own way to San Diego.

Representatives from the school district have confirmed the use of Professional Learning funds to pay for the conference. They say the Georgia School Board Association encourages members to attend the annual event.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.
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