Audit looks at school spending for travel

State Auditor Claire McCaskill has chosen to audit all sorts of interesting things.

The latest: school travel spending.

This month, she found that districts across Missouri spent $30 million during fiscal year 2002 on seminar and conference travel for administrators, teachers and board members.

The amounts spent by individual districts are enough to raise eyebrows in many districts. Examples: $64,980 for Clearwater School District in Wayne County and $57,513 for Perry County School District. Both schools were on McCaskill's list.

Not every school district was contacted by the state auditor's office requesting information about travel expenses.

Part of the reason for the audit is to determine which governmental agencies are complying with the state's Open Meetings, Open Records Act, also known as the Sunshine Law.

Some districts say the audit was flawed.

For example, the audit report said the Sikeston School District didn't comply with a request for the information. That district's superintendent insists the information was turned over. In fact, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education had the same information on hand.

And Jackson School District's superintendent said that district's figure incorrectly included student travel.

But the audit does bring an important trend to Missourians' attention.

Private businesses have to cut back on expenses like travel to seminars and meetings. School districts should be expected to do the same wherever possible.