COPPERAS COVE — Parents and other members of the public got the chance to ask questions of Copperas Cove Independent School District’s top administrators Thursday night during a question-and-answer session.

About 20 people gathered in the Lea Ledger Auditorium for the session, which featured Superintendent Joseph Burns, Deputy Superintendent Richard Kirkpatrick and Copperas Cove High School principal Earl Parcell.

After a short presentation on college readiness opportunities by Parcell, Burns fielded questions from the audience, which included parents and students. Topics ranged from textbooks to the school’s in-school suspension program.

“We want you to feel comfortable,” Burns told the audience. “If there’s something you need more information about, we will get that to you.”

One of the more spirited exchanges of the night came when James Steverding, a parent and PTA president for Martin Walker Elementary School, raised concerns about the amount of money the district’s board members were reimbursed for travel and other expenses for the previous fiscal year.

As reported by the Herald Nov. 26, the district paid out $49,584 in reimbursements during fiscal year 2011. Included on the list were all seven board members, as well as two past board members and former Superintendent Rose Cameron. That number was about $18,000 more than the amount of reimbursements paid by the neighboring Killeen Independent School District.

“The numbers are staggering, particularly on the Copperas Cove side,” Steverding said.

Joan Manning, the board’s current president, also attended Thursday night’s meeting. She pointed out that some of the money was used in travel to Washington, D.C., to speak with lawmakers about protecting CCISD’s federal Impact Aid funding.

“I think if you take a look at that amount versus $16 million (in Impact Aid), it’s a small amount,” Manning said. “I take taxpayer money very seriously. It’s not a joke to me. We go to represent our taxpayers, and we receive $16 million in Impact Aid a year that our taxpayers don’t have to pay.”

Shortly after the exchange, Burns said the Q&A session was a forum to bring up such concerns to the district.

“This is the kind of discussion that we need to have,” Burns told the audience.

This was the district’s second question-and-answer event of the 2012-13 school year. The district also plans to hold a third session later this year, possibly in February or March 2013.

Contact Chris McGuinness at or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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