by Jack Minor –
Several school board members and Superintendent Ranelle Lang will be attending a four day convention at the five star Broadmoor resort.
The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) holds its annual convention each year at the luxurious resort. The dates for this year’s convention are Dec. 8-11.
The district is a member of CASB and spends $18,000 in dues to be part of the organization. Board members Linda Trimberger, Julia Richard, Doug Lidiak, Logan Richardson and Superintendent Lang are attending the convention. The total cost to the district for attending the conference this year is $3,398. In addition to the room cost, the amount includes registration fees, per diem and mileage expenses for the board members and Lang.
CASB is a lobbying organization that often advocates for increased government spending on education. CASB says it “advocates the interests of local boards of education to groups both within and outside the education community.” The group also states it provides structures for school board members to unite in promoting the interests and welfare of Colorado School Districts.
On its website, CASB says benefits of joining the organization include training programs and legal services for helping board members run their districts.
The legal services do not provide all of the district’s legal needs; a local law firm has been retained by the district.
The Broadmoor was honored by the Forbes Travel Guide for making the list of five star winners for the 52nd consecutive year. The hotel is the only national resort to ever achieve this status.
According to the Broadmoor’s website, they are the longest running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards. The 5 star resort is located in Colorado Springs on 3,000 acres and features two swimming pools, 54 holes of championship golf and six tennis courts.
The four day convention uses a majority of the facilities and includes work sessions such as “The Game has Changed: What will it take to pass a bond and mill levy override in 2012?” “Changing the Constitution and other trivial matters” and “Unstuck and Maximizing Diversity.”
CASB also holds a winter conference for members at the Brown Palace in Denver. The dates for this winter’s conference is Feb. 16 and 17.
The Brown Palace says they offer personal butlers “dedicated to your every whim and desire during your stay at the Palace.” The cost per room for board members is $156 per night.
Board member Brett Reese has expressed concerns about holding the conferences at these exclusive resorts.
“At a time when all school districts as well as people across the state are struggling financially, I believe holding these meetings in these luxurious resorts send the wrong message to the people in our community,” Reese said. “I think CASB should look into another location such as a High School in the Denver area. They could then change the dates to work around the weekend and delegates could stay in a Motel 6 or similar motel. This way we are being wise and frugal with the taxpayer’s money.”
Whenever Reese addressed his concerns at work sessions, previous board members would disagree. Former member Mark Hinze, who recently lost re-election, said CASB needed to hold the convention at the Broadmoor because of the number of conference rooms that were needed. Hinze said a high school would not have a sufficient number of classrooms to accommodate the various sessions.
Regarding meeting at the Broadmoor, Hinze said at one meeting, “I don’t want to go to Denver, I’d rather go to Kersey.”
Convention costs do appear to have gotten the attention of the new school board. Doug Lidiak, Board President has told members he will be contributing his reimbursement funds to the “Success Foundation,” which is the District 6 school foundation.
Scott Rankin said he was not aware that he was registered to attend the conference and would not be able to attend every day. CASB has a deadline for providing refunds for delegates who do not attend every day of the convention.
“Had I known that I was registered for the conference and that there was a deadline for a refund if I was not attending the whole conference, I would have specified earlier that my intent was to only attend one day,” Rankin said.