School board member wants to cut back travel

School board member wants to cut back travel

By Matt Grant. CREATED Nov 7, 2011

FORT MYERS - After a Fox 4 discovered thousands of tax dollars are being spent on education conferences from Key West to San Francisco, one board member is calling for change.

"I think we've spent too much on travel," said Lee County school board member Don Armstrong. "Definitely."

Armstrong is reacting to our investigation where we discovered one board member spent more than $10,000 over two years.

He says he wants to cut back on trips and wants out-of-state travel to be voted on in public.

"It brings transparency to the board," said Armstrong, who went to one conference and called it a waste.

"So the public can see what we're voting on and what is going on at all times with their tax dollars," he said.

Armstrong says he wants to cap how much can be spent on travel but did not give details.

"I'd rather put that money back in the teachers' pockets," said Armstrong, "back in the classrooms."

Fellow board member Mary Fischer defends the trips.

"As we prepare kids to compete globally we want to make sure that our teachers and educational staff are up to speed," said Fischer, "with state and national standards and national trends."

But she says, if there are concerns, now is a good time to re-evaluate the district's travel process.

"We should look at it and look at every detail and make sure we are getting the most bang for our buck to speak," said Fischer. "And that we are spending money wisely and not doing any unnecessary travel."

Board member Dr. Jane Kuckel is also open to a new discussion on travel. 

"It's a good conversation for us to have," said Kuckel. "because we have new board members and we have a new superintendent...who have not been in on previous sessions that we've had."

"I think it's imperative that we have a renewed discussion," said Kuckel. "It needs to be a coordinated effort."

The issue is expected to come up at the board meeting on Tuesday Nov. 8. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.

Matt Grant, Reporter