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School Board goes to Calif. for conference

April 13, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Washington County Board of Education sent more people to an education conference in California over the weekend than all but one Maryland county.

All seven members of the School Board and Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Theresa Flak attended the National Association of School Boards Conference in San Francisco, a trip that will cost at least $8,000.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said Tuesday that School Board members will learn a lot about their jobs at the six-day event, which offers training seminars and lectures.

"This helps us in a very positive way," he said. "I think it is well worth the expenditures as an educational tool."

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Of the state's 23 counties, 21 sent representatives, according to a telephone survey. The average number of people sent from each county was three. Only Washington, Montgomery and Caroline counties sent full boards.

School board size varies. Caroline County has a five-member board and Montgomery County's has eight members, making its the largest contingent.

For some, attending the annual conference is too costly. "It's an affordability issue," said James Raley, president of the Garrett County Board of Education, which did not send anyone.

The event began April 8 and concluded yesterday. It featured keynote speakers like Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maya Angelou and former British Prime Minister John Major.

Topics included superintendent-board relations, the potentials of technology in teaching, school violence and how to combat negative influences on adolescents.

The School Board's travel budget for this year is $9,600, said supervisor of accounting David Brandenburg. Exact costs for the trip were not available.

Last year, the School Board budgeted $8,000 for travel, raised the amount to $11,500 and spent $11,105, Brandenburg said.

Board member B. Marie Byers' expenses for the conference were paid by the NASB because she is a regional director of the organization, said board secretary Cheryl Steiner.

Steiner registered the other board members for the conference for $525 each, except Andrew Humphreys. His registration fee was $840 because he attended extra events, such as a school leaders luncheon and human relations dinner, she said.

Steiner made flight arrangements for board members Humphreys, Paul Bailey, Herbert Hardin and Mary Wilfong at a total cost of $1,364.

Humphreys stayed at the Hotel Union Square five nights for $595, Steiner said. Bailey and Hardin stayed at the Westin St. Francis Hotel for $500 each. Wilfong stayed with Byers at another hotel.

Board President Edwin Hayes, Doris J. Nipps and Flak made their own hotel and flight arrangements. Those costs were unavailable. Bartlett estimated Flak's expenses would be $1,300 and she will be reimbursed.

Hayes and Nipps may or may not seek reimbursement, said William McKinley, executive director of support services. None of the board members were available for comment. They were expected to return late Tuesday or early today.

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