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Drain wants taxpayers to pay for additional training
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Ashley Drain wants more training.

And she wants the Manteca Unified School District to pick up the tab.

On Tuesday the embattled Drain – who was once again asked to resign her position before the district gets locked in to footing the bill for her recall election – pushed for the board to amend a policy that allows for one conference training session each year.

According to Drain, one wasn’t enough to get brought up to speed on the current happenings on the school board scene and she hoped to raise the number of reimbursable travel events to three – allowing her the chance to attend sessions hosted by the African American School Board Association.

When fellow Trustee Nancy Teicheira noted that during her tenure on the board attending a single training session a year has proved to be fruitful and that any additional should be paid for through the stipend given to trustees, Drain noted that she “wasn’t going to spend her stipend on that.”

“This is where the cultural divide happens on the board – age cultural – because she’s been here and says that’s sufficed for her. And me, I admit that I’m a millennial and I want to learn as much as I can with no limits if that’s possible,” Drain said. “But I’m saying lets go to three and not restrict it to one because that automatically allows me to go to the African American association and we all know that I don’t have the money to pay for a $235 conference and training that’s going to benefit what I’m doing for community that I’m volunteering for.

“I just kind of want to acknowledge that there’s a separation here – and I respect your perspective, 100 percent – but my perspective here is I need more training and I want to be able to do that and I want to be able to associate myself with other like faces that look like me and are dealing with some of the same struggles that can also help me navigate through my position on the board as well.”

Ultimately the board agreed to amend the policy to allow for individual members to approach for additional funding that requires the majority approval of the board before footing the bill.

Trustee Michael Seelye said that he looks as the matter as a budget issue – especially after Superintendent Jason Messer noted that the funding for travel and conference expenses to the California School Board Association’s annual summit can push about $2,000 a person.

Not spending the money, he said, ends up the responsible thing to do while kids are forced to buy their own supplies for their education.

“I don’t want to spend a lot of money going to conferences when we need kids buying this and kids buying that,” he said to applause from the crowd. “I do find them useful, but just to go? Spending $5,000 for a conference. I won’t go. I’m sorry. That’s just too much.”

And Teicheira noted that attendance at a conference or a training session doesn’t necessary equate to success.

On Jan. 13 a representative from the California School Board Association held a training session at the district that was supposed to bring members of the board up to speed on issues like the Brown Act – California’s open meetings law.

But less than a month later the board was accused of violating the act in multitude of ways.

“We were given training and a few weeks later we had problems – we got in trouble,” she said. “I think that we get our stipends and once a year is enough.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.