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Pottsgrove Board OKs Post-Conference Expenses

Pottsgrove school board Vice President Al Leach (left at top) and district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk discuss conference expenses during Tuesday’s board meeting

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – The $820 cost of having Lower Pottsgrove Elementary School‘s two administrators attend a July conference was approved Tuesday (Aug. 8, 2017) by the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors, almost a month after the event ended. Although they ultimately covered the expense some directors made it clear they wanted advance, not after-the-fact, notice.

School Principal Yolanda Williams and Assistant Principal Steve Sieller participated in the 2017 National Principals Conference during July 9-11 in Philadelphia. Both were involved during the session in a presentation led by Pottsgrove High Principal Dr. Bill Ziegler.

However, their paperwork seeking board agreement to pay for it was submitted after its last meeting of the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the Tuesday meeting agenda.

“Right now, I can’t say ‘no’ to this. It’s already done,” board Vice President Al Leach contended. “I know for field trips we have protocols. They have to be approved by the board within a certain period of time. Wouldn’t that also be held the same for a conference?” Don’t district employee requests meet the same standard?, he asked.

Board President Matt Alexander said he, too, was “a little surprised” by the agenda item, and noted the problem has arisen before.

“There is protocol we ask our administrators to follow,” district Superintendent Dr. William Shirk, replied, “and we do our best with that … This particular case was caught up in the year-end.” There was “no doubt” it came in late, Shirk conceded, but because the presentation put Pottsgrove in a “national spotlight” he authorized the request. “We wanted them to take part,” he said of Williams and Sieller.

The cost covered only registration fees and transportation. Because it was held nearby there were no hotel or other expenses incurred. Both administrators “have developed plans for sharing the learned information with staff and other administrators through meetings,” the agenda stated.

The price paid for district employee attendance at meetings, conferences, and even some training programs is a perpetual hot topic with elected school board members, primarily because some constituents view the costs as an extraneous or unnecessary use of tax dollars.

Among members of the current board, director and former President Rick Rabinowitz for a few months continually voted against conference attendance requests to protest the district’s inability to further reduce property tax rates. Director Bill Parker in the past opposed having multiple employees attend the same event, contending that one alone should be sufficient and be able to teach others what he or she learned.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Aug. 8 meeting):’

Photo from The PCTV Network

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