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School board official rang up $5,144 in expenses

August 14, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Washington County Board of Education member Andrew R. Humphreys spent $5,144 to attend out-of-town meetings and conferences in fiscal year 1998, more than the other four board members combined, school financial records show.

The school board's expense budget has more than tripled in the past three years, the records show.

The board's expenses for the 1996 budget year were $3,439, school officials said. Expenses increased to $7,326 in the 1997 budget year and to $11,104. in fiscal year 1998, which ended June 30.

School board President Robert L. Kline said more money was budgeted for expenses last year because more conferences were available for school board members.

Kline, whose expenses amounted to $325 last year, said he believes Humphreys should reduce his expenses.

"It's money being taken from the kids, is the way I see it," said Kline.

Humphreys said his expenses were higher because he attended more meetings than the other board members.

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Humphreys attended a number of conferences sponsored by the National School Boards Association, the Maryland Association of Boards of Education and the Federal Relations Network, according to school records.

Humphreys said the Federal Relations Network, of which he is a member, keeps school boards informed about education issues at the national level.

He recently learned through the network about a federal bill that would cut the amount of money going to education, Humphreys said.

The information is valuable to the school board because it helps the district spot trends, said Humphreys.

Records also showed Humphreys used a Board of Education car on 49 days between January and May, a school official said.

Humphreys said he used school board cars for board business. He said he had to use the cars because his personal car was not always available.

There is a pool of board-owned cars that the central office staff can use for business, according to William McKinley, director of support services.

School board members can use the cars, but usually do not, said McKinley.

B. Marie Byers, school board vice president, said the cars mostly are for central office staff.

"Using a central office limited fleet vehicle for 49 days seems out of the ordinary," said Byers.

Expenses listed for other school board members last year were:

-- Doris J. Nipps, $2,708.63

-- Byers, $1,093.94

-- Edwin Hayes, $283.65

Amanda Klugh, the student representative to the board, had $546.32 in expenses. The board spent $1,002.54 for food during meetings at the central office.

Much of the money spent was for out-of-town trips.

Humphreys, Nipps and Byers attended a National School Board Association conference in New Orleans last April, said Nipps.

Conferences put on by the national organization are valuable because they bring local school officials up to date on the latest education programs, she said.

Nipps said she thought it was important to attend the conference because the past year has been "such a time of change" for local schools.

She mentioned the release of a curriculum audit that showed a wide range of problems in county schools.

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