Oceanside school district’s trip to Washington is still raising questions

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) staff’s $130,000, four-day trip to Washington, D.C., in late June/early July is still raising questions. 

Steve Lombard, OUSD director of communications, said the district is very transparent about its operations, including sending 61 staff members to the Washington, D.C., conference.

Lombard said he does not have a list of names of who attended, but he did confirm nine district level administrators, 19 school site administrators and 33 teachers from 20 of the 23 district schools were sent to the conference at the district’s expense.

The district covered staff’s hotel, airfare, meals and conference costs within set district guidelines. Extras, like sightseeing and alcohol, were not covered by the district.

“It was something like $10 for breakfast, $14 for lunch, the conference and that’s it,” Lombard said.

The purpose of the trip was to train key staff in the newly adopted national Common Core Standards.

“The district felt it was an opportunity for our folks to get out in front of the Common Core Standards,” Lombard said.

Lombard added the Common Core Standards are a new approach to teaching that schools nationwide are in the process of implementing.

The trip was paid for by 2012-13 Title I funds, which aid districts with a high number of social and economically disadvantaged students.

Twenty of the district’s schools receive Title I funds.

Lombard said Title I funds can be used for staff development, materials, and a “gamut” of other things.

Funds from the district’s $157 million general operating budget (2012-13) were not used for the trip.

The district’s general operating budget is funded by average daily attendance (ADA).

OUSD has 23 schools, including its alternative school, and 20,281 students for the 2012-13 year.

Vista Unified School District is also an ADA funded school.

It has 29 schools, 22,000 students and a general operating budget of $190 million (2012-13).

The U-T reported on July 12, that Vista Unified spends $38,000 on administrator and teacher conferences.

“We just don’t send people out of state like ‘the good old days,’” said Jeanie Luckey, Vista Unified’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. “When we do send people out of state, they have to go through an unbelievable process to get the approval.”

Lombard said the OUSD board was aware of the conference expenses and supportive of the decision, but it was not an expenditure that needed a board vote.

Lombard added that he does not recall the last time the same amount was spent for administration and teacher training and he does not see the likelihood that the same amount will be spent on conference costs in the next four years.

“It was a large expense and good decision to send this amount of people,” Lombard said.

Lombard said the district expects administrators and teachers who attended the conference to share information they learned at their school sites.

Each school will form its own plan on how information will be shared.


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