District's getaway (so not) necessary
By Eric Heyl
Published: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Quit labeling it a junket.
It wasn't a junket. It was an entirely innocent educator enrichment experience, one that just happened to occur at one of Western Pennsylvania's most luxurious resorts.
Wilkinsburg School District administrators continue to be unfairly pummeled over incurring an innocuous expense in August. They spent the paltry sum of $15,000 to send 13 staffers and a consultant to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County for two nights in August.
What was the cash-strapped district supposed to spend that $15,000 on? Textbooks? C'mon!
Some district residents don't understand. They can't comprehend that there is no way educators can adequately grow professionally unless they occasionally convene in an environment that features two championship golf courses, an internationally acclaimed spa, 14 specialty shops and an impressive collection of restaurants and lounges.
Residents who would prefer the district spend its precious resources on students fail to realize that students aren't that important in the overall public education equation. Sure, they help pass the time between those delicious prix-fixe dinners at Nemacolin's posh Lautrec restaurant, but that hardly makes them essential.
Everyone inexplicably appears to be focused on the fact that Wilkinsburg is on a state Department of Education financial watch list, because the district had to borrow $3 million last spring to pay its bills. Everyone wants to concentrate on why the district had to take out the loan despite the fact it has the highest property tax rate among Allegheny County's 43 school districts.
Like any of that has to do with professional development. C'mon! Can't anyone in Wilkinsburg stay focused on the real issue?
In defending the getaway, new Superintendent Lee V. McFerren treaded carefully, attempting to avoid further angering district residents. Not once, for example, has he noted the annual retreats are as routine as the district's below-average student test scores or its undisputed rank as one of the state's most violent districts.
McFerren also hasn't stated the obvious: The harsh reality is that there is nothing approaching the accommodations of Nemacolin in Wilkinsburg. The community doesn't have championship caliber-greens; it has boarded-up storefronts, frequent gunfire and heroin rings that are the envy of Chicago's South Side.
The only place in Wilkinsburg that comes remotely close to a five-star restaurant there is a KFC. Had the retreat been held there, every attendee's binders would still smell like greasy, fast-food, fried chicken.
That wouldn't have been good for morale.
McFerren has nothing for which to apologize, If Wilkinsburg didn't occasionally treat its upper-level administrators to getaway trips with gifts bags that include T-shirts, gift cards and expensive pens, it would stand the very real risk of losing the leadership team that has made this school system the envy of no other one on the planet.
The district could ill afford that, wouldn't you say?
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Pirates seek to tap Alvarez’s remaining upside
- Gorman: Pitt should be happy with Dixon
- Web of surveillance videos helps ensnare suspect in East Liberty slayings
- Man dies in overnight Butler house fire
- Loss to Pitt propelled Clemson
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs