Tracking travel expenses of local school superintendents

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Holding the top job in a school district means making high impact decisions and helping student achievement to soar; that's the role of the superintendent.

The three most high profile school CEO's in Central Virginia are Marcus Newsome in Chesterfield County, Yvonne Brandon in the City of Richmond and Patrick Russo in Henrico County.

Those jobs come with big responsibility, and a big paycheck. Newsome's contract shows that he takes home $262,500 a year. Brandon takes home $190,400, and Russo collects $257,816 annually.

Not included in those salaries are travel expenses for business trips, most often to professional conferences and meetings. They typically bill the school system, meaning that the taxpayer pays for those trips.

CBS 6 investigated exactly where the Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico superintendents have been traveling and how much they've been spending during the past two school years.

              SALARY DISTRICT SIZE    2010-2011   2011-2012 COMBINED TOTAL TRIPS 2010-11 TRIPS 2011-12
Marcus Newsome $262,500   58,764 students       $1,752.73    $2,410.33 $4,162.00   0 out of 11 trips   1 out of 9 trips
Yvonne Brandon $190,400   23,000 students       $4,883.96    $6,520.15 $11,404.11   2 out of 11 trips   5 out of 16 trips
Pat Russo $257,816   48,659 students       $3,988.08    $10,450.54 $14,438.62   2 out of 9 trips   7 out of 12 trips

Starting in Chesterfield - Marcus Newsome has averaged about ten conferences a year for the past two years. He's traveled almost entirely in-state and does not expense meals to the district while on those trips.

He went to Charlottesville, Roanoke and Williamsburg. Newsome left the state only once during that two year period, to go to Philadelphia. His most expensive trip was about $700. From September 2010 to September 2012 he spent a total of $4,162.

In Richmond, Yvonne Brandon's travel documents show that she has attended about a dozen conferences a year. Many were in state, including events in Virginia Beach, Lynchburg and Williamsburg. But Brandon also took several trips outside Virginia.

Those destinations included Washington, DC, Tampa, Boston, Houston and Oakland. Her most expensive trip cost $1962.40. Brandon’s two-year travel total came to $11,400 dollars.

Henrico’s Patrick Russo, like Brandon, attended about 12 conferences a year during the past two school years. And like Brandon and Newsome, many of his destinations were in the Commonwealth, including trips to Virginia Beach, Lynchburg and Roanoke.

Like Brandon, Russo took several out of state trips, attending events in Denver, Dallas, TX, Washington, DC, Pinehurst, NC, Houston, Boston and Napa, CA.

His most expensive trip billed to the district was over $2,000 and his total spent over the same period as the others was $14,448.

Are these travel expenses money well spent? Is it worth the return? You the taxpayer decide.

Breakdown of travel destinations.

RUSSO (Sept 10-Sept 2012)

Virginia Beach, VA (3)
Alexandria, VA (2)
Lynchburg, VA (2)
Roanoke, VA (2)
Williamsburg, VA (2)
Hampton, VA
Denver, CO
Dallas, TX
Washington, DC
Pinehurst, NC
Houston, TX
Boston, MA
Nappa, CA

BRANDON (Sept 10-Sept 2012)

Virginia Beach, VA (2)
Charlottesville, VA (3)
Lynchburg, VA (2)
Williamsburg, VA  (2)
Roanoke, VA (2)
Alexandria, VA
Lawrenceville, VA
Cumberland, VA
Washington, DC (5)
Tampa, FL
Boston, MA
Houston, TX
Oakland, CA

NEWSOME (Sept 10-Sept 2012)

Virginia Beach, VA (2)
Lynchburg, VA (2)
Charlottesville, VA (5)
Roanoke, VA (2)
Williamsburg, VA
Lawrenceville, VA
Cumberland, VA
Philadelphia, PA