FAIRFIELD — Out-of-state travel costing $14,750 – including trips by seven teachers, the principal and a secretary from Dan O. Root Elementary School to Seattle for a conference at the Tulalip Resort Casino – won approval Thursday without comment by Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees.
Steve Patton, a teacher at David Weir Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, later said during public comment that he’d just returned from San Diego for what critics call a junket and that his teaching has been changed because of what he learned at the conference.
The trip was worth it, Patton told trustees.
He later said that participants left at 4 a.m. for the three-day conference of the California Association of Teachers of English that took place at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego. Patton said that early morning departure allowed teachers to take a 6 a.m. flight and avoid the cost of an additional day of lodging.
Conferences expose instructors to other teaching strategies, Patton said.
“You’ve got to get out there and learn new things,” he said. “You can’t just stay in your classroom and expect to become a better teacher.”
Patton said travel and conference spending, which totaled $616,596 last fiscal year for the Fairfield-Suisun district, is a small amount of money to develop teachers as professionals.
“It’s ridiculous that it’s even questioned,” he said.
Dan O. Root staff will travel June 24-25 to Seattle for the No Excuses University, which believes all students have the right to be educated in a way that prepares them for college.
Suisun City resident George Guynn Jr. had told trustees before their approval for the $14,750 in out-of state travel that he used to think the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District and the city of Fairfield were over the top in travel spending.
“I think you guys took their record away,” Guynn said. “That’s not a good thing.”
The Solano County grand jury report last May said costs to the sewer district for directors and staff to attend conferences between 2010-12 totaled $135,169. The conferences took place in cities that include Monterey, Newport Beach and Palm Desert.
Guynn told trustees that the Fairfield-Suisun district should improve education rather than see how much can be taken from taxpayers.
“There’s always a shortage of money regardless of what you get,” Guynn said.
Travel and conference costs for the Fairfeld-Suisun School District so far this fiscal year total $457,484.
The school district in a press release this week said, “Out-of-state trainings are often less expensive than trainings held in some cities in California – San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, etc.”
“Additionally, the out-of-state events provide opportunities for our educators to network with fellow educators who are not from California,” according to the Faifield-Suisun district.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.