WARMINSTER -- Discussion was heated at the Jan. 14 Centennial School Board meeting on the topic of sending board members to the annual National School Board Association conference.

The board approved an action item to send five district employees and two board members to the conference. The conference is a two-day event taking place on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Washington DC.

Board member Mary Alice Brancato cast an opposing vote, questioning the need of two board members to go to the event.

“Why do we need two board members? Isn't one sufficient since there are five employees going also?” she said.

Even though the second school board member is paying for his own lodging and the district is only covering his $225 registration fee, the cost can be eliminated since six more people are going to the conference, Brancato argued.

Board member and former Pennsylvania School Board Association President Mark Miller who has been a steady participant over the years explained that during the event attendees have options to participate in multiple informational sessions, many of which take place simultaneously.

He said that with the amount of valuable information the participants would be bringing back, the school board should not be “penny smart and dollar foolish.”

“We're volunteering our own time and resources to go and bring back money-saving techniques back to the district,” he said. “We need as much diversity in our expertise as we can bring.”

The board approved the $2,300 lodging and registration expense that does not include the second board member lodging, over Brancato's objections.

“I think it should be five board members and two employees,” said board member Charles Martin before voting “aye” on the measure.

The Equity Symposium in Washington, D.C. provides a forum for school board members, public school advocates, and community leaders to examine and discuss the strategies, current trends, research, and best practices around equity in our nation’s public K-12 schools.

This year's key note speakers will include Elizabeth Denevi, Ph.D., Robin Avelar La Salle, Ph.D., Rwenshaun Miller.

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