Lubbock ISD Spent Over 1 Million Dollars In Travel Expenses
Travel expenses for the Lubbock Independent School District are under the microscope after a report in June gave an overview of just how much the district spends on hotel and airline expenses. EAGNews.org reported that LISD spent over $1 million dollars in hotels alone in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
According to EAGNews.org, the district had over $1.4 million in travel-related expenses during the reporting time.
The exact total was $1,028,067.49, according to our tally, through 2,373 district travel card transactions. That comes out to an average of about $433 per hotel transaction.
We came to those figures through a review of 521 pages of travel card expense records provided by the school district through a public information request.
The school district also spent $395,321.76 on airline fares and fees through 1,158 travel card transactions, according to our calculations. That averages out to about $341 per transaction.
That brings the district’s combined hotel and airline expenditure to a whopping $1,423,386.85 for a single year.
In it's report, EAGNews compared the travel-related spending in Lubbock to Austin. Austin ISD spent around $1.3 million on hotels, airlines, and restaurants. Nancy Sharp with Lubbock ISD defended the travel expenses and said that Lubbock's location was part of the reason why travel expenses were so high.
Nancy Sharp, a spokeswoman for the Lubbock district, said the travel expenses were for students and district employees. She said most of the trips were very long because Lubbock is located in a remote area of Texas.
She added that some expenses – like the big tabs at the Churchill and DuPont hotels in Washington, D.C. – were funded by federal grants. Of course, that’s taxpayer money too, just filtered through a different source.
Sharp said employees must provide receipts for transactions put on their travel cards, and any expenses they can’t substantiate are deducted from their paychecks.
Some student trips are subsidized by booster clubs, sponsors, and student fundraisers, although district credit cards are still used to make the payments, Sharp said.
Sharp does have a point. Many conferences, championship games, and other events are held in Austin and Dallas-Ft. Worth and Lubbock's location would add to the expense of attending those events.
Still, some still would like to see a breakdown of student travel vs. administrative travel expenses. And there are some charges that may warrant an explanation. For instance, a single charge for over $9,000 for one night at the Embassy Suites in Austin on May 31, 2017 and another single charge for $5,990.64 on June 1, 2017 at a Doubletree Hotel in Austin.
EAGNews.org was not able to provide a complete breakdown of travel expenses from Lubbock ISD.