Gary Ubben Ric Best
|Things got a little heated at Thursday's Loudon County School Board
workshop when board members, Dr. Professor Ubben and Dr. Music Best
requested funding for a trip to Boston. That in turn revealed that Best
and Ubben had attended the same meeting in Nashville last year without
board approval or knowledge. Last years trip to
the National School Boards Association
convention in Nashville cost the tax payers about four thousand dollars,
two grand each.
According to board chairman Scott Newman, it looks like while Ric Best was the board chairman last year, he decided not to bring the request to the full board but just decided the doctors would take the trip on their own, paid for by you and me.
Fingers were pointed, voices were raised and the doctors even offered to reimburse the county for the cost of last years three day junket. Here's the real rub, the Loudon County School Board isn't even a member of the National School Boards Association. That's because it's nothing but a far, far left wing, liberal organization that holds much of the responsibility for the mess current public education is in.
I think it's safe to say that the doctors wont be attending this years National School Boards Association convention, at least not on the tax payers dime.
Here's something to really think about. The two doctors are the very ones, who while taking a tax payer funded mini vacation, were pushing hard for a twenty cent property tax increase on the good citizens of Loudon County for another two million dollars for school board operations. Just let that soak in.
In August, there will be an election of over half the school board members, several of which voted for the twenty cent property tax increase. This includes Dr. Professor Ubben, Jeremy Buckles, Phillip Moffett and Craig Simon. If we don't get some folks on the school board with some fiscal sanity, we'll likely face the same tax and spend policies for another four years.
It's up to the voters.
BOE mulls trip expenses
What initially began as a reminder for Loudon County Board of Education members for the upcoming Day on the Hill and the National School Boards Association convention turned into a heated debate at Thursday’s workshop.
Members became aware of funds used to cover travel expenses that did not receive prior approval from the board.
Expenses were related to a trip BOE members Ric Best and Gary Ubben took to an NSBA meeting last spring in Nashville.
Director of Schools Jason Vance said the total cost for the trip was less than $2,000.
“They spent money to go to the National School Board Association last year, and nobody else went to it,” Scott Newman, BOE chairman, said after the workshop. “It was never put in front of the board to vote on it, and that’s outside the realm of how we usually do things. We vote on our TSBA dues and when we join it we know that there’s a ... state conference, and we know that we go to that every year.
“We usually go to Day on the Hill,” Newman added. “We discuss that. Last year, we discussed in a meeting that we were just going to have them come to us, and so nobody went to Day on the Hill.”
Newman said his concern with last year’s expenditure was that Best, who was chairman at the time, did not put the travel expenses on the agenda for board approval.
“It needs to come in front of the board before we spend money,” Newman said. “Now Jason’s people is totally different because it’s a line item, and he has these people going to different schools and stuff throughout — and that’s part of their professional development. Our money’s put in there, we got professional development too, but we usually keep up with what we have to spend, and we just don’t go and spend it and not let the other board members know. ... Six out of the eight that were in there (at the board meeting) didn’t know that they had went until afterwards.”
The local school board is a member of the Tennessee School Boards Association but not NSBA.
Best said he and Ubben worked “hand-in-hand” with Vance on planning for the trip. Best said he and Ubben volunteered to cover the expenses.
During the workshop, Ubben said he found the national convention a useful way to learn more about the latest on the No Child Left Behind Act, which at the time had not been replaced by the Every Student Succeeds Act.
“I was under the impression that everything had been done for this to be an appropriate, professional development,” Best said after the workshop. “I offered repeatedly to pay my expenses. I’ll pay my own expenses this year. This is professional development and growth for education just like we expect our teachers and principals to engage in professional development. We should expect that for ourselves, and I asked the director repeatedly, ‘Has every board member been given an opportunity?’ To the best of my knowledge, every step was taken that needed to be taken.”
Moving forward, Vance said the board may wish to vote on items outside the scope of the TSBA.
“It’s a good opportunity for them to get great professional development and see what’s going on at the national level,” he said after the workshop. “I do understand the board’s hesitation to want to commit to the conference wholeheartedly because they’re not members of the NSBA, and they feel like they can get better information from TSBA than they can NSBA.
“So, I feel like we’re maybe putting the cart in front of the horse in regards to being overly anxious and excited about that. I think we learned from where we’re at today, and we’ll figure out a way to move forward in a positive direction in future years.”