JPS chief’s travel costs top peers

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“The board expressed concern about travel expenses for district employees on a regular basis, including Dr. Edwards and the rest of the district staff,” Larkin said.

Superintendents, particularly those with large school districts, benefit from attending conferences in other states, one expert said.

Leaders of large, urban districts need to find peers to get a sense of how similar innovations may work in their schools, said Bruce Hunter, associate executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, an organization that regularly holds conferences.

“You have to find somebody roughly your size, usually, and your complexity, to see an idea and get a sense of what you would have to do to make the changes,” Hunter said.

It can be necessary to go out of state “because innovations seldom take place in your own back yard,” he said.

Other Mississippi superintendents also talked about the importance of traveling for training.

Without training, educators would be out of touch because education is constantly changing, said DeSoto County’s Kuykendall, who leads the state’s largest school district.

But Kuykendall also said he hires experts to work in the district, and he often sends his deputy superintendents, administrators and teachers away for training. Federal dollars are used to bring experts to the district to train employees, he said.

Kuykendall attended four conferences over three years at a total cost of about $2,500.

“I’m fortunate that I have a big district in that regard, because I do have some people to help me,” he said.

It may be difficult for superintendents of smaller districts to send their staff away for training, he said. Those superintendents may also hear criticism, but “look at how it’s changed,” Kuykendall said of education. “Look at the demands of it, all the standards, all the hoops they have to jump through.”

Apr 17th, 2011 | Posted in Travel
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