BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — Sullivan County Board of Education members, the board’s attorney and the school system’s former and current directors spent a combined total of $19,715 to attend conferences in Nashville this year and in 2018.
Records obtained by the Bristol Herald Courier show that they stayed in the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville both years at a combined cost of nearly $7,485. Both stays, two nights for each year, were for the Tennessee School Boards Association’s annual conference.
All were reimbursed a combined total of $5,705 for both years for vehicle mileage and $6,525 was spent on attending the conference and workshops.
“The travel expenses related to board members and the attorney would be paid through the Board of Education part of the General Purpose Budget,” wrote Ingrid Deloach, Sullivan County’s Department of Education business manager, in an email to the Herald Courier. “The Director’s expenses would be paid through the Director of Schools part of the General Purpose Budget.”
The general purpose budget is funded through local and state dollars and no grant or federal dollars were used for the expenses, she added.
“Every school board in the state, I think, had representatives there,” said Board of Education Chairman Michael Hughes. “It’s really money well spent.”
He added that attending the legal workshops at the conferences is valuable in learning what the board legally can and can’t do.
Hughes, board members Randall Gilmore, Mark Ireson, Paul Robinson, Matthew Spivey, Jane Thomas and former member Jerry Greene as well as board attorney Pat Hull and former Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski attended the 2018 conference. Greene didn’t stay at the hotel overnight. Thomas also brought her husband, but he didn’t attend the conference, according to the records.
This year, Hughes, Gilmore, Ireson, Robinson, Spivey, Thomas, Hull and current director David Cox attended the conference.