School Board Debate Some Changes to Travel Policy

During the Feb. 19 Hudson School Board meeting, one of the debated policies was in regards to a proposed rewrite of its expense reimbursements policy. “We currently have a very different policy than districts around us,” Business Administrator, Jen Burk, said. She explained that when they get employees from other districts, they have some who are confused and possibly concerned “with the board component to this.” Burk explained that traditionally the travel requests go up the chain of command to the assistant superintendent or superintendent level, noting that they are part of the budget.
As part of the proposed policy, “Any employee wishing to be reimbursed for travel expenses incurred under this policy must complete a travel expense reimbursement form, to be submitted along with the pre-approved purchase requisition, all original, itemized receipts, and approval confirmations for all expenses, to the SAU Business Office within fifteen days upon returning from the trip.”
“When official travel by personally owned vehicles has been authorized, mileage payment shall be made at the rate currently set by the Internal Revenue Service,” the proposed policy reads.
Any travel outside of the state, or that would require an overnight stay “must have the prior approval (written or electronic) of the Superintendent or designee, and such approval shall accompany the request for reimbursement as outlined above.”
“All expense reimbursement forms, and travel expense vouchers must be approved by the employee’s supervisor and administrator and must include all associated receipts for requested reimbursement including flights, hotel, meals and other related expenses,” the proposed policy states. “In the event that reimbursement is being made for multiple employees on a single receipt, the senior supervisor/administrator in the traveling party must charge that expense and submit the receipt for reimbursement in accordance with this policy. Receipts covering multiple employees must include a list of the employees covered by that expense. In no case shall an employee pay for the expenses of his/her supervisor.”
Burk explained that as part of the process the superintendent would report to the board what they have going on for conferences and other professional development, and if the board was interested in hearing their experience they could come forward after.
School Board member, Ethan Beals, asked aside from other districts doing things differently, what the motivation was for changing the policy.
“I’ve had people tell me specifically they felt physically ill having to come to the board to ask to go to a conference,” Burk said.
Burk also explained that they don’t bring other purchases back to the board that are budgeted for and that they just go through the normal budget process.
School Board member, Gary Gasdia, said he never understood why they were going to the board in the first place for the requests, but he liked the idea of people either coming back to the board after to explain what they learned, or to have the superintendent give them a report.
He also noted that there were times in the past when previous boards used travel expenses as a way to “grill” people. “I’d hate to see anyone not take advantage of it,” Gasdia said. `
Beals said he doesn’t know if he will support it when it comes to a final vote.

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