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City Life: Administrators shouldn't travel when schools need pencils

December 13, 2011|By Steve Smith

I recently reviewed five years of travel expenses for school Supt. Jeffrey Hubbard.

Before revealing what I found, it is important you understand why I am qualified to pass judgment.

Since 1983, I have attended, spoken, exhibited and organized dozens of conferences.

In all the years I traveled, I never purchased anything from a minibar, never charged a movie to my room, never ordered room service and tried whenever possible to eat economically, avoiding hotel restaurants as they are notoriously more expensive than outside eateries.

In cities such as Philadelphia, New York or Chicago, I avoided expensive taxis into town in favor of the trains, for about $5 each way. In other cities, I preferred a group shuttle service, which often cost far less than a taxi, the transportation of last resort.

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I kept expenses down for one reason: It wasn't my money. Travel with me on a pleasure trip and there's no end to the fun. But when I am spending someone else's money, I am a miser.

After all those years of conference interaction, the list of ideas or programs that were implemented as result could fit on the head of a pin.

In 2006, the first year of his contract here, Hubbard went out of town once, to Burlingame for a three-day superintendent's conference. The following calendar year, he traveled seven times for a total of 17 days. In 2008, travel became routine. That year, Hubbard traveled 12 times and spent 22 days at conferences, meetings and events. In 2009, it was eight trips for 18 days. In 2010, there were 11 trips and 21 days out of the office.

This year, the first full year since he has been indicted on three felony charges related to his previous job in Beverly Hills, Hubbard has traveled only to Sacramento for one day in October. None of these totals include the travel days, nor does it include local day or partial day trips to surrounding communities to smaller events. There have been dozens of those, all of which pull the superintendent away from the real business of overseeing the progress of our schools.

When I met with Sherri Snyder, the district's coordinator of administrative Services, to go over the district's responses to my findings, I explained that there are both philosophical differences in the expenses and some that are simply inexcusable.

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