• September 22, 2014

Report: Cove ISD paid $47,700 for board member, superintendent travel in 2012

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Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 4:30 am

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

Superintendent

  • Rose Cameron (former) — $11,449.74
  • Joseph Burns (current) — $2,285.25

Board members

  • 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

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6 comments:

  • dawgmom posted at 10:09 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    dawgmom Posts: 5

    If these are for conferences, the hotels are usually large chain hotels that can accomodate hundreds for meetings, and have hundreds of rooms. Expensive. While it would be nice to go the 'cheap' route and stay somewhere like Motel 6, even in the nationa's capital places like that are expensive.

     
  • dawgmom posted at 10:07 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    dawgmom Posts: 5

    They use this $$ to go to conferences, especially ones in Washington DC. These are nationwide conferences, most of them are for Federal Impact Aid related events. If people realized how MUCH Federal funding we could stand to lose from our district (and will lose in upcoming year), this $47K is pocket change compared to millions upon millions. Out of sight, out of mind. If our locals don't get some real face time with people who control that funding, we could lose it. Which we almost did several years ago and would have devastated our district. That $47K is an investment. Also, business conferences are pricey. Conferences are held in big hotels with big prices and big costs. I travel for business and it is easy to spend over $1200 on a 3-day conference, including lodging, airfare, and conference/food costs.

    These trips are never made in secret. If someone would go to a school board meeting people would find out when, where, and how much these trips cost.

     
  • MAJAG89 posted at 3:01 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    MAJAG89 Posts: 52


    Even worse, is the fact that CCISD received a superior achievement designation for its finances under the TEA FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas ) referenced in this article. That's pretty good for those unfamilar with the report.
    But who would know since the only thing mention is the 47 grand spent on travel reimbursements.
    Report link for those who care to make informed opinion.
    http://tuna.tea.state.tx.us/First/forms/District.aspx?year=2011&district=050910

     
  • MAJAG89 posted at 2:50 pm on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    MAJAG89 Posts: 52

    Classic shoddy reporting once agin by the KDH. This story provides zero context for the $47,700 spent. How many of the seven board members were reimbursed? How many trips were involved? Where were these trips? What type of transportation was involved?
    Since the Board is seven persons and both the current and former Superintendent were included in the report, that's a least nine people potentially reimbursed. Is the report limited to those nine or does it cover other "top officials" in the district.
    Does the report provide any details on what was reimbursed?
    This may or may not be a legit story about over spending but once again the KDH staffer has failed to provide the details for the reader to make an informed decision about whether they should be outraged or not.

     
  • Viktor posted at 11:13 am on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    Viktor Posts: 316

    What kind of food are they eating and what hotels are they staying at with these kinds of reimbursements?

     
  • Fran posted at 11:05 am on Mon, Oct 21, 2013.

    Fran Posts: 50

    As our country has been in a recession for the last 5 years, it seems to me that some people do not fathom how these people could spend that sum of money and for what reason... we pay the bills, we want to know exactly what this money is paying for. If they come back with "to attend conferences"...then let them all get on their computer and do video-conferencing. It works for business.