Grayslake District 46 trying to tighten travel expense policy
Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members are exploring tighter guidelines for expense reimbursement when traveling for business.
School board President Steven Strack said while the current group of elected officials is careful with public money, the school system's current reimbursement policy is lacking.
"The current one is very short and vague," Strack said. "There's not really much to it. The original intent was to put some more meat on the bones, if you want to call it that."
During a discussion at an Oct. 21 meeting, board member Robert Roop said the travel and expense reimbursement policy should dictate how hotel rooms are booked for the annual Illinois Association of School Boards convention in Chicago. School officials from across the state will gather downtown Nov. 19-21.
Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wacker Drive and the nearby Sheraton Hotel and Towers on East North Water Street will be this year's headquarters for the education conference.
Roop said District 46 should seek the best hotel rates and not automatically book with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Swissotel or four other properties listed on the Illinois Association of School Boards' housing forms.
"If you're going to stay at the Hyatt or Swissotel or something like that, for sure there's some lower-priced options for the Loop or River North neighborhood," Roop said. "You can look at hotels.com. They've got weekend (rooms) that go for $100 to $150."
The association is promoting $188 rooms at the Hyatt and Sheraton, with the cheapest being $179 at the Marriott and InterContinental, both on Michigan Avenue.
Some board members bristled at Roop's suggestion they can save money and walk from a less-expensive hotel to the headquarters venues. Strack recommended the revised policy reflect that board members' safety and comfort should be taken into consideration when seeking the best hotel rates for the convention.
Among the other ideas floated for a tighter travel expense policy for District 46 board members are no reimbursements for hotel gyms, laundry, lost baggage, airline club memberships or alcoholic beverages. Steps for reimbursement approval would include saving all receipts from business-related travel and submitting an expense report as soon as possible.
In 2012, some elected officials said stricter travel guidelines were needed after it became known former board members Susan Facklam and Karen Weinert were reimbursed $1,930 in public money for attending a National School Boards Association conference in Boston. Facklam and Weinert said they paid their own airfares to Boston.