Board questions cost of outside training firm - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Board questions cost of outside training firm

Members of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners want to know why their district spent more than $50,000 to train school administrators.

The issue originated when a school board member asked why the district needs to go out of state for professional development.

The training, conducted by the Boston firm 'Research for Better Teaching' is nearly half complete, even school board members have not yet approved its funding.

The proposal from Research for Better Teaching, obtained by Action News 5, lays out the costs for the consultant to come to Memphis:

  • 10 trips
  • Hotel and meals: $5,250
  • Ground transfers, car rentals and taxis: $3,500
  • The total travel costs between Boston and Memphis: $18,350

The total cost for the program was more than $50,000.

Wednesday, officials at the Tennessee Department of Education said there are closer, less expensive programs similar to the one offered by Research for Better Teaching.  In fact, the Department has a field office at the University of Memphis' Scates Hall, just 3.2 miles from the Memphis Board of Education office.

On the calendar there are regular seminars on teaching strategies.  The next seminar, to be held this coming Tuesday, is free.

An official at the Board of Education said the private, out of state firm offers 80 Memphis City School principals and teachers expert instruction, observation and communication skills, and leadership building.

The State Board of Education, the official said, does not offer such comprehensive, quality training, adding the only money paid to Research for Better Teaching was to cover travel costs for the initial meeting in May.

Two people came to Memphis for one day to discuss the service.  The school system did not cover the cost for that meeting. The official said the district searched for programs following a National Staff Development Council Audit, and that the Board of Commissioners not only approved the action plan, but participated in the search.

The school system stresses any money paid for the program down the line would come from federal tax dollars specifically earmarked for professional development.

The consultant was scheduled to conduct courses in Memphis on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Board of Commissioners will discuss the proposal at their next meeting.

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