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School workers' meal reimbursements unchanged

May 06, 2009|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Meal reimbursements for Washington County Public Schools employees traveling on business will remain the same.

The School Board unanimously supported increasing reimbursements in April, but each board member changed his or her vote Tuesday in favor of maintaining the current meal stipend.

School Board members had favored a policy change that would have raised the amount to be reimbursed per day for meals from $55 to $70. That proposed change reflected increases of $5 for each meal. Those increased amounts were $15 for breakfast, $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner, according to the previous draft of the policy.

In April, school board members voted 7-0 in favor of increasing those amounts.

However, on Tuesday the board voted 6-0 to make several changes to a policy that includes guidelines for travel and business expenses, but to maintain reimbursement rates at their current level. Board member W. Edward Forrest was absent.

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That means employees will be reimbursed $10 for breakfast, $15 for lunch and $30 for dinner -- a daily maximum of $55.

Board member Justin M. Hartings offered an amendment Tuesday to keep the current rates. He said he researched the rates of reimbursement in the area and found Washington County Public Schools' policy was comparable to other districts.

Hartings said it made sense for the school system to align itself with other governmental organizations instead of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education -- a private organization -- which recommended the change.

"I think it's important for employees to be able to travel," Hartings said. "I don't want them to be discouraged from traveling for business."

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