I believe it was the year 2000 that I began looking at District 95’s financial records. In addition to discovering that the district was financially in trouble, I also noticed that taxpayer money was illegally being spent on the Illinois School Board Convention held annually in Chicago during the month of November. While the administration was crying poverty, they were spending (by my standards) large sums of money to attend this conference. That would have been within their rights. HOWEVER, the taxpayers were also paying all of the expenses for their spouses and sometimes for their children to accompany them. It appeared to me to be a three day holiday in Chicago paid for by the taxpayers. After pointing this out to the administration for several years I contacted the State Board of Education. The practice of the district paying for family members stopped. I have reviewed the Convention expenses every year and have found them to be mostly in order.
I thought that this year I could give examples of the proper way for elected officials to keep expense records. For the Convention held on November 17, 18, and 19, 2011, the cost to the district was $360.00 per person for registration. I believe there were 3 board members (Bailey, Davis, and Tuttle) and 5 school personnel who attended. The hotel costs, with taxes, were approximately $550.00 per room for all three nights. While I don’t believe any of the spouses of the school personnel went, with the exception of Sam Robert’s wife, all of the board members took their spouses and, in some cases, family members. The good part is that all of the expenses were itemized and the taxpayers paid absolutely NOTHING for the meals of family members. Since each board member traveled independently, family members could accompany them at no additional charge. The hotel rooms were paid for by the district, so the spouses could stay for nothing. I think that Mrs. Sutton, Mrs. Ogle, Mrs. Jones, and Mr. Meister all traveled together in the district’s van. Good job.
I did notice that one room and several meals were charged to the district’s credit card for people who were not on the board or were district employees. The costs were later reimbursed to the district, but I question that practice. Also, Tom Davis continues to turn in cab receipts with only the date and amount on them. I am thinking that the receipts should also include who went where. How do we know that his family didn’t take a cab to go shopping?
Here are their expense sheets and receipts. I hope other government bodies do as well as District 95.