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Top school officials' expenses revealed

February 21, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
By Chad Trovinger

Continuing-education opportunities, business community events and a presentation at a state education conference were among the expenses of Washington County Public Schools’ top administrators during the past fiscal year.

In addition to Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan’s expenses, an expense analysis provided to The Herald-Mail in November 2010 includes expenses for Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael, assistant superintendents Donna Hanlin and Michael Markoe, and Chief Financial Officer Chris South.

Morgan had expenses for that fiscal year of $3,708, the highest among the school system’s top administrators. South was second at $941.

Expenses for the five administrators totaled $5,202 for fiscal year 2009-10, according to the expense analysis.

The expense analysis was first requested by then-school board candidate Karen Harshman in October 2010. The Herald-Mail requested a copy of the results. Harshman’s request was for travel expenses from Jan. 1, 2009, to Oct. 1, 2010.

The Herald-Mail focused on expenses that began July 1, 2009, and ended June 30, 2010, the only complete fiscal year available from the request. It was prepared by South, except for the section on South’s expenses, which was prepared by Accounting Director David Brandenburg.

South’s expenses included $474 for the spring conference of the Association of School Business Officials and $65 for the fall meeting.

Another $402 was for the spring meeting and fall conference of the Maryland Negotiation Service. An outgrowth of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland, the service provides continuing education for people who are involved in negotiations, South said.

For the negotiation service’s fall conference, South’s expenses were $382 for the conference package, meal, tolls and gas, according to South and the expense analysis.

Hanlin, assistant superintendent for curriculum, school administration and improvement, listed $255 in expenses for the 2009-10 fiscal year. That included $150 for what she recalled was a two-night stay at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center for a Maryland Assessment Group Conference in Ocean City, Md., in November 2009, according to the expense analysis and Hanlin.

Hanlin said she was a presenter, talking about how teams of teachers analyze assessment-test results for areas that require improvement and how to figure out what they can do to teach those particular skills.

Hanlin’s other expenses were $65 to attend the statewide Teacher of the Year banquet at Martin’s West near Baltimore and $40 to go to the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce’s Teacher of the Year banquet, according to the expense report analysis and Hanlin.

Markoe also attended the chamber’s Teacher of the Year banquet and listed $118 for a hotel during the Maryland State Department of Education Leadership Conference in Ocean City.

Markoe said the gathering was a special-education leadership conference in which educators looked at cutting-edge strategies to help students with disabilities by learning what other school systems were doing.

Michael’s $140 in expenses were mostly fees to attend Chamber events, including the Teacher of the Year banquet, the State of the County, and breakfast presentations about civility, county transportation planning initiatives and the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission’s annual report.

Michael said he strategically selected which Chamber events to attend, only going to those he thought would “benefit my capacity as deputy superintendent.”

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