Free Ride

How would you like a four day, all expense paid, including airfare, trip to sunny Orlando Florida with ten of your friends and coworkers? Or if sightseeing is more your style, how bout a four day jaunt to Washington DC with a dozen friends and coworkers? These are just a couple of the many, many trips paid for by the tax payers for Loudon County school employees.

In the 2009-2010 school board budget, the board spent nearly one hundred thousand dollars on travel expenses for board employees. $99,243.00 to be exact. Most of the travel expenses were for various seminars, conferences and the annual school board member junket to Nashville or what school officials call, "staff development." Surprisingly, the vast majority of the travel expenses went to administrators not teachers.

From Florida to DC, Memphis to Nashville, Chattanooga to Sevierville, it's fair to say that when staff travel, it's pretty much first class. Staying at hotels like the Hilton, Radisson, Marriott, Sheraton and of course the Gaylord Opryland. Then there's meals, rental cars and gas reimbursements.

I'm sure that some of these trips were beneficial and maybe necessary, but a hundred thousand dollars worth of trips? Can anybody point to anything gained from any of these travels that has brought major improvements to our school system? 

In this day and age with all the marvelous technology we have, telephones, teleconferencing, computers, the internet, and given the desperate financial condition of our school system, doesn't it seem like somebody would be looking ways to save some money? It's time to cut out some of these free rides.