An annual report has shed light on how much money the Copperas Cove Independent School District spends reimbursing its superintendents and school board members.
The Texas Education Agency’s Financial Integrity Rating System report showed the district spent nearly $47,700 on reimbursements for the 2012 fiscal year.
The money is mostly used to reimburse the district’s superintendent and seven board of trustee members for transportation, meals, lodging and other travel-related expenses. In 2011, the district paid out $49,584 in reimbursements.
Board members are elected and do not receive a salary. State law does allow them to be reimbursed for certain expenses related to traveling within the scope of their duties.
According to the report, board president Joan Manning topped the list, receiving just more than $11,826 in reimbursements. The district’s former superintendent, Rose Cameron, received more than $11,449 in travel reimbursements for that same year.
Manning said the board was judicious with its expenses, and many of the costs were due to traveling to Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers on the topic of impact aid.
Impact aid provides funding to schools to make up for lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal property, such as military installations. Manning said nearly 20 percent of the district budget comes from impact aid, which is in danger due to the automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
“If we lose that (money), things could change dramatically, so we need to make sure our voice gets heard,” Manning said. “When you look at the reimbursement expenses, (compared) to what we get from impact aid, the cost is minute.”
In addition to building relationships with federal lawmakers, board members also are required by the state to get training each year they are in office.
“We try to be as conservative as possible when we travel,” said Wilburn, who was reimbursed $4,699, according to the report. “We try not to have individual board members making multiple trips out of state.”
Cove Superintendent Joseph Burns and board member Doug Cook were in Washington, D.C., on Monday to attend the annual conference for the Association of the United States Army.
Manning said the board president usually attends the conference, but she deferred to Cook this year due to the cost.
“We are very cognizant that this is taxpayer money,” Manning said. “We will not be foolish with it.”
Copperas Cove ISD FY 2012 total reimbursement payments
- Rose Cameron (former) — $11,449.74
- Joseph Burns (current) — $2,285.25
- Joan Manning — $11,826.90
- Mike Wilburn — $4,699.49
- Bob Weiss — $4,470.36
- Karen Harrison — $4,155.14
- Inez Faison — $3,929.68
- Jim Copeland — $3,247.80
- Doug Cook — $1,915.11
Source: Texas Education Agency’s Financial Integrity Rating System report