ILLINOIS SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL
Typical costs can help boards budget
by Linda Dawson
Linda Dawson is IASB director/ editorial services and editor of The Illinois School Board Journal.
This is the time of the year that school boards and superintendents begin seriously thinking about budget figures for the coming school year. Part of any of those
budget decisions should be how
much to allot for board members to attend professional development events.
Because of changes in state statute adding mandatory training for school board members in education and labor law, financial oversight and accountability, and fiduciary responsibilities, plus a new statewide mandate for all elected officials to have training in the Open Meetings Act, some of these professional development costs are not just at the board’s discretion. They are costs that will have to be incurred.
The costs listed here will not be the same for every school board or for every location. Costs will vary depending on the number of board members who need to attend as well as how far away the event will be.
To help project outlays for your board’s upcoming budget year, here are some typical costs for various types of programs gleaned from members of IASB staff and current registration materials:
Board members elected or appointed after June 13, 2011, must complete the legal and financial training referenced above within the first year of their board service. Beginning April 9, 2013, during this coming budget year, anyone — new or incumbent — elected to the board on or after that date, will need to complete that training.
IASB has developed an online course that will fulfill this requirement. Cost for the four-hour module is $50 for members. By completing the requirement online, the district saves money on transportation to a different location to take the training.
The mandated Open Meetings Act (OMA) training is for all public officials in Illinois, including school board members. While an online course is offered through the Illinois Attorney General’s website, IASB also offers options that are designed with school board members in mind. OMA training will again be offered at this year’s Joint Annual Conference in Chicago. An additional one-time charge of $25 covers the paperwork and certification. IASB’s “The Basics of Law on Board Meetings and Practices” workshop also contains everything needed for OMA certification, in addition to more in-depth training. Cost of that workshop is $125.
An additional requirement for mandatory training around Illinois’ Performance Evaluation Reform Act (PERA) will be phased in over the next five years. Most districts will not be required to participate in the teacher evaluation piece until the 2016-17 school year. This Act will require that board members who will vote on dismissal of teachers based on performance evaluations will have to be “PERA trained” in order to do so.
Once the Illinois State Board of Education has developed the implementation rules, IASB will develop training — most likely online — that will allow board members to fulfill this mandated requirement.
For the semi-annual dinner meetings held each spring and fall, costs will differ depending on whether the event is scheduled at a school (which is typical for most divisions outside of the Chicago metropolitan area) or at a restaurant. Registration normally includes dinner as well as meeting programming.
Division meetings held at restaurants will run about $40 per person. Those held at a school will be about $23 per person.
If your district pays the state rate of 55½ cents per mile, the cost of driving round trip to a meeting 50 miles away would add another $55.50.
That would make the dinner meeting a total of $78.50 to $95.50 per board member traveling alone. If board members share transportation … a driver with three passengers … then total district cost for the meeting would run $147.50 to $175.50.
Some divisions schedule summer and winter governing meetings, where board members can help division officers and IASB field services staff determine programming needs for the fall and spring meetings, as well as get updates on other Association events. Cost to attend these meetings, which are usually smaller and held at a restaurant, will be similar to those for a fall or spring meeting or less.
This spring, division meetings also included an option for mandatory OMA training. The special programming added $25 to the cost of attendance, but allowed board members to attend two function at once instead of separately, which would save on mileage reimbursement and travel time.
Cost of stand-alone workshops can vary widely, depending on the topic and the speakers, but generally cost between $125 and $185 per person for most registrations. Mileage to and from the event will also need to be calculated at 55½ cents per mile.
If the workshop plus driving time runs several hours, it may require an overnight stay the night before to make an early-morning meeting. With meals, add about $200 for staying overnight in a small city, or $300 in a large metropolitan area. Typical total: from $200 for a drive-in workshop and up to $450 for an overnighter.
The Association often discounts registration if more than one session is being held at the same time. Even though the cost may be more initially, it might make more sense to attend both workshops at a discounted price and only pay one mileage and/or overnight stay with extra meals.
IASB also offers a number of in-district workshops to help boards save on travel and registration costs. Having an in-district workshop brought to your board allows all board members to hear the same message at once for one cost.
Information about board member training and programs such as the LeaderShop Academy are available on IASB’s website at http://iasb.com/training/events.cfm. IASB also has developed a board training calendar available at http://iasb.com/training/bdcal.cfm
Joint Annual Conference
Costs associated with November’s conference in Chicago will vary differently for districts, depending on how far they are from the “big city.” The district will need to budget at least $360 per person for registration, plus about $225 or more per day for lodging and meals. Hotel rates have been negotiated years in advance and are much lower than most discounted rates charged for staying in downtown Chicago.
What the district authorizes for meals per day can range from $40 to covering actual expenses. The amount should be established by policy at a board meeting prior to conference registration and attendance, not when the receipts are being turned in for payment.
Travel options also vary because board members may elect to take the train instead of driving into the city. As a guide, an Amtrak ticket from Springfield to Chicago costs about $50 round trip. Board members traveling from a city that does not have an Amtrak station would have to figure in mileage to get to the station and back home as well.
Board members traveling by train also will need to take a taxi to the hotel, which will add another $15 to $20.
In addition to mileage, board members who drive will need to add about $30 to $50 or more per night for parking.
Other add-ons for annual conference might include attending a preconference workshop ($220, which includes breakfast and lunch for all-day workshops) or taking the Chicago Schools Tour ($85, which includes breakfast).
The average bill for one board member attending typically ranges from $1,150 to $1,400, with additional costs for those board members traveling from southern Illinois.
Some districts also choose to send representatives to the National School Boards Association Conference or NSBA’s Federal Relations Network lobbying conference. Some costs will be similar, but others will be much more.
Plan to spend $900 for the annual conference and $685 for the FRN conference just in registration fees. As with Illinois’ annual conference, board members can choose to add a pre-conference workshop at an additional cost of $195 for a half-day and $320 for a full day. NSBA also offers various site visits on each day of the conference for $105 to $160, depending on the site.
Obviously travel expense will be more as the locations are out of state. Airline tickets vary in price depending on the location and whether your board members are leaving from major hub airports like O’Hare in Chicago or Lambert in St. Louis, or from a regional airport, such as Bloomington or Springfield. Budget at least $250 to $350 for airline tickets and remember to allow extra for mileage to and from the airport.
FRN is always held in Washington, D.C. NSBA’s annual conference for 2013 will be in San Diego; 2014 is scheduled for New Orleans.
Cost of hotel rooms for those conferences can run anywhere from $190 to $250 per night, depending on the location. Meal costs for national conference should also be part of your board policy that covers meals at the JAC.
As you can see from the above, professional development for board members is an added expense for a district. Creating a line item in the budget is a good way to ensure that board members get mandated training, as well as allowing for expenses for other training opportunities.
The board may want the superintendent to provide figures on how much the district spends on professional development for teachers and staff and then look at the line item for both that training and board member training as a percentage of the district budget.
Remember, however, that the cost of not having board members who are well-trained and well-informed on the current issue affecting education may be even more costly.
Table of Contents
Click on Banner for More Information
Although the IASB Web site strives to provide accurate and authoritative information, the Illinois Association of School Boards does not guarantee or warrantee the accuracy or quality of information contained herein.