Some parents, teachers concerned over cost of teachers' retreat - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Some parents, teachers concerned over cost of teachers' retreat

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

The first weekend in June, 43 certified teachers and staff of Blaney Elementary School will be on a retreat in Myrtle Beach.

District officials say it's for team-building,  but some parents and teachers are concerned that the funds for the trip should be used in the classrooms.  The two-night trip to Kingston Plantation costs nearly $12,000.

A couple of parents and teachers who were concerned where the money for the trip came from contacted WIS.

The Kershaw County School District's spending reports show a check was written on May 11th to the Myrtle Beach luxury resort, Kingston Plantation, for more than $11,000.

"Four years ago they've been doing fund raisers purposely to plan this retreat so teachers can go away, have a time to reflect on the last school year as well as make plans for the new school year," said district spokesperson Mary Anne Byrd.

She said the two-night retreat is voluntary. It's supposed to help build morale.

But a parent, who wants to conceal her identity, thinks those funds should be used to take care of day-to-day needs in the classroom.

"If all those needs are taken care of and there's excess then by all means do something reasonable that will enhance, the teachers deserve everything they get," said the parent. "They deserve to be honored and have everything benefit they can get but this was beyond what seemed reasonable."

Byrd admits that Blaney, like many schools, is struggling with a troubled economy. But she says principal Lisa Carter has saved the money for four years.

It came from magazine, tee-shirt and picture sales, and not from PTA fund raisers.

"These are fund raisers the principal has discretion to use," said Byrd. "Picture money for example, always comes back to the school and the school can then decide how it gets used."

"As a parent, I don't see separate money," said the parent. "You see funding to educate the children and that's what the first focus should be."

The parent said she wishes she would have known those fund raisers would have paid for a teacher retreat.

"I don't like the way it's been approached such as, doing the fund raisers and not telling us that's what they were for at the same time asking us to supplement the classrooms."

The teachers went on a similar retreat four years ago.  The school's improvement council, made up of teachers, parents and staff, recommended both trips.

The district office encourages parents to call if they have any questions.

Copyright 2012 WIS.  All rights reserved.

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