Travel, conferences costs for school district total $616,596

By From page A3 | February 26, 2014

FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield-Suisun School District, which spent $616,596 last fiscal year on travel and conferences, says the professional development that takes place at such events “is the anchor of public education.”

The school district has a reputation of offering high-quality professional development, the district said in a press release.

Employees can attend professional development inside and outside the school district, it said. Some professional development events outside the district may also be located out of state, the school district added.

“Usually, the out-of-state events boast speakers who are extraordinary leaders in education such as Robert Marzano, Richard DuFour and more,” according to the school district. “Sending educators to see these cutting-edge educators is cost-effective because the educators share the information back at their own sites and throughout the district.”

“Out-of-state trainings are often less expensive than trainings held in some cities in California – San Diego, Los Angeles, Palm Springs, etc.,” the district continued. “Additionally, the out-of-state events provide opportunities for our educators to network with fellow educators who are not from California.”

Such networking, the district press release said, “infuses our educators with even more ideas to share back ‘at home.’ ”

Marzano, described by the Fairfield-Suisun School District as “one of the nation’s top educational researchers,” is a keynote speaker at a Common Core standards conference scheduled April 29 to May 1 in Glendale, Ariz., at the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa. Four teachers and an assistant principal from Armijo High School will attend the Arizona conference that costs about $1,650 per participant.

Marzano is also a keynote speaker in Las Vegas for a Leadership Now conference April 1-3 at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Six teachers and an assistant principal from Armijo High School will attend the event that costs about $1,700 for each participant.

DuFour is described on the Solution Tree website as a consultant who is one of the leading authorities on helping school practitioners implement Professional Learning Communities at Work.

Out-of-state travel costing $14,750 – including trips to Seattle by seven teachers, the principal and a secretary from Dan O. Root Elementary School – goes before school district trustees when they meet Thursday. Dan O. Root staff will travel June 24-25 for the No Excuses University.

The website for No Excuses, which believes every student has the right to be educated in a way that prepares them for college, said the Seattle conference will take place at the Tulalip Resort Casino. No Excuses’ website describes the site “as one of the premier resorts and conference destinations in the Pacific Northwest” and states that the resort “offers a captivating blend of Native American culture and contemporary sophistication just 30 minutes from downtown Seattle.”

“Our Seattle luxury hotel will bring one word to your lips again and again during your stay: Wow!” the No Excuses website adds.

Martha Lacy, principal at the David Weir Preparatory Academy in Fairfield, has attended No Excuses conferences and calls them “probably one of the most valuable professional experiences I’ve had.”

“It really does wonders for moving our kids forward,” she said of No Excuses. “I’m very passionate about it.”

Lacy, who is from Seattle, said the Tulalip Resort is very nice, “but it’s not like living large.”

The trip in late June means teachers will be attending on their own time and the school district doesn’t have to cover the cost of substitute teachers for classes in the Fairfield-Suisun district, she said.

David Weir Preparatory plans an April 9-11 trip to take 10 students to Oregon State University. Total cost for the students, Lacy and a teacher will be about $2,200.

Other travel before trustees includes Vanessa Walling-Sisi, coordinator of English language development at Armijo High, attending the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Expo in Portland, Ore., March 26-29 at the Oregon Convention Center. The cost is about $1,750, according to the school district.

Travel and conference costs for Fairfeld-Suisun School District so far this fiscal year total $457,484.

Trustees meet at 6 p.m. in the district office at 2490 Hilborn Road, Board Room No. 108, in Fairfield.

Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]

Ryan McCarthy


Discussion | 24 comments

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  • George Guynn, JrFebruary 25, 2014 - 3:47 pm

    I f professional development is the anchor pin of public education, why does FSUSD have so many schools that are not up to par? Why is California at the bottom of the education ladder? Why can't the school board teach the facts that Lincoln was a racist, tyrant, and traitor and doesn't deserve a holiday? Instead, Perry Polk and company gets the DR management to say that I am obscene for complaining. Also, how many more millions are they going to waste for a parcel tax soon and what is their excuse when they still don't produce good results? The public must demand the board lower the waste and take a big fat budget cut!

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  • JBFebruary 25, 2014 - 5:00 pm

    Looks like we are going to be voting on a new parcel tax soon. Have to do it for the kids right teachers? Bet if the conference was in Redding no one would want to go.

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  • FedUpFebruary 25, 2014 - 5:22 pm

    Madness! Sheer insanity! Are we expected to bow down and vote more money to support these junketeers? How did education flourish and do such wonderful things before all these junkets came into being? And why is our education system failing now that we do have such junkets? Are we insane allowing our pockets to be picked by these junketeers?

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  • Rudolph MadronichFebruary 25, 2014 - 7:25 pm

    Wow $616,596 dollars would buy a lot of books and supplies for the class rooms?

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  • jayloe321February 25, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    This is ridiculous. Why the heck is it ok for them to spend almost $1 million on travel and conferences but yet the kids are losing schools and busing? Why is it that I just received a letter a few weeks ago saying that my son is in a p.I. school and I can move him to a better school next school year? Shouldn't the letter have come out in the summer before school started? Why is it ok that they spend almost $1 million on travel and conferences but our kids don't have school programs? Does spending money for these things benefit our kids? No. If it did we wouldn't be having this conversation would we. This is so disappointing to know that you would even attempt to justify it. Sadly no one sees the problem in it. Good teachers have lost jobs and yet this kind of spending is beneficial? Why are they needing to stay in luxurious resorts and casinos to supposedly talk about school? It's an outrage!

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  • B. ThiemerFebruary 25, 2014 - 9:11 pm

    remember this when they begin their bi-annual "we need more revenue" campaign this year.

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  • rlw895February 25, 2014 - 11:25 pm

    Here we go again! First of all, consider the figure (not "close to a million," but closer to half a million) in comparison to the total district budget and number of employees.

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  • FedUpFebruary 26, 2014 - 7:04 am

    Ah, the perennial tax and spend apologist just had to chime in. Just change rlw 895's "...closer to half a million..." to read "MORE than half a million" and the picture grows much darker than he tries to make it. More than half a million dollars would go a long way to paying for necessities in the classroom and should not be spent on junkets, period. Will this insanity in government spending never end? How much of this madness must we endure before the profligates finally kill the goose that is laying their golden eggs?

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  • rlw895February 26, 2014 - 11:35 am

    "More than half a million" would be fine.

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  • Rudolph MadronichFebruary 26, 2014 - 1:39 pm

    rlw ok closer to half a million dollars any way you chose to add it up that money would be better spent on the classrooms in the terms of supplies, and not wasted on these trips for the elect few. with computers today you could do the same conference for a hole lot less. i guess those that went needed a paid vacation on taxpayer dollars. I wonder if you are not one of the select few that got to go?

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  • Legend1949February 26, 2014 - 7:27 am

    Fix the schools, hire teachers to bring back classes the schools have lost, buy material for classes, BEFORE taking your vacations, and don't tell us you didn't take a swim suit

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  • Suisun1February 26, 2014 - 8:12 am

    Poor reporting by the DR. The $616K figure is useless without comparisons to others similarly sized schools districts. Teachers and schools have the MOST important job of producing thoughtful, intelligent people who will carry on our democratic experiment in America. I think it's important to ensure oversight of funds, but I would hardly call professional development opportunities a waste of money.

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  • William SandersFebruary 26, 2014 - 10:25 am

    If these travel and conferences are so important to the Teachers and administrators then why not have everybody attend? The schools ave very modern equipment. They could be in Fairfield and receive the instructions over closed circuit for a fraction of the cost and provide it for everyone.

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  • George Guynn, JrFebruary 26, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Could it be that rhw895 and Suisun 1 are district employees and love that free to them, but not the taxpayer, money? Doctors and other professionals have to pay for their own continuing education and so should district employees! I don't want to hear the district needs more money when there is $600K+ to blow on junkets!!!!

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  • rlw895February 26, 2014 - 11:41 am

    Could be, but tisn't. What's the difference anyway? People at the district have the best information.

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  • George Guynn, JrMay 01, 2014 - 6:10 pm

    rlw895, if you don't think that $616,596 is too much money to waste, what can I say as you obviously don't believe in accountability of public funds!

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  • Tom ChalkMay 01, 2014 - 7:15 pm

    George: Some of you "tax watchdogs" are more like yapping mutts that bark incessantly day and night without any apparent reason. It is tiresome to say the least, and negates your influence on folks who might be tempted to objectively look at your point of view. If you should (accidentally) have a valid point, guess what? Nobody gives a carp, because you are socially irritating and apparently bereft of rational reasoning abilities. There is definitely a need for vigilant citizens who are willing to hold public agencies accountable for their use of taxpayer funds. But to have any impact at all, they should avoid becoming a bothersome, buzzing fly, fouling the potato salad at the family picnic.

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  • Tom ThumbMay 01, 2014 - 7:19 pm

    You cluck....

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  • rlw895May 01, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    George: What, did you just awaken from a long nap? This story is from months ago! I stand by my comments. Ryan was just throwing you a little red meat. You never disappoint putting on a show.

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  • jaleenaMay 03, 2014 - 6:03 pm

    Sadly you would argue an amount when our kids can't even get the yellow bus or any other color bus for that matter to and from games that are out of town. Better yet, a busto and from school. I am not sure if you have any idea what to do with the same money if there were nowhere for these people to go at all. Excuse me, staff. Would you give everybody a bonus check? I have been in this town for 23 years and it has gotten progressively worse with every year. I have to say that anything over five is rounded up sweetheart or did you miss that part in your math class? How many schools have we lost and reopened only to use as something else or another school? How many schools have adequate supplies or up to date books? I could go on and on but I won't. I will say however, that priorities are definitely misplaced when it comes to our children. You should be ashamed of yourselves to think that staying in a fancy hotel or eating expensive food trumps our kids education. It's no wonder why the crime rate here has skyrocketed.

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