INDIANAPOLIS — In March 2016, the Indianapolis Star reported about severe financial challenges at Indianapolis Public Schools.

“The state’s largest school district is running a deficit of more than $12.6 million this year, and it projects a $5.5 million deficit next year,” the newspaper reported.

Considering that news, some taxpayers would probably be shocked to see what the school district spent on travel in the 2015-16 fiscal year:

$331,489.14.

According to an expense list provided by IPS, the district had 675 travel-related transactions in 2015-16, for everything ranging from mileage reimbursement to conference registration fees, lodging, air travel expenses and other odd items.

Most of the individual expenditures listed by the district were three or four figures, but they all added up.

A few expensive trips are particularly interesting. The school district did not provide details of the trips, but we know the destinations in most cases, and we know how much money was spent.

There was some type event in Houston in January 2016, presumably a conference of some sort. The school district made 14 payments for registration at $1,559 apiece, for a total of $21,826. It made another eight payments at $353 apiece (no purpose noted) for a total of $2,824, and one payment for $559 (no purpose noted).

The cost for that trip was at least $25,209.

There was some sort of event in Atlanta between Oct. 14-16 that attracted a number of district employees and cost a lot of money.

There were two transactions for lodging totaling $3,526, two transactions for registration totaling $9,480, nine listings for what appears to be air travel totaling $1,056, nine transactions labeled “return to Indy” totaling $2,708, and another 12 labeled only as “travel,” totaling $1,455.

The total tab for the trip was $18,225.

There was an excursion of some sort to Washington, D.C. in December 2015. The district listed 10 transactions for that trip, totaling $4,999.

One transaction listed on the school district travel register mentioned no destination or purpose – it just said “payment for lodging” and cost $3,352.

Another entry simply listed a name – Casey – along with a destination of Nashville. That expenditure came to $4,376.

There were many more examples like the ones listed above on the travel register provided by the school district.

Then there was this: a $50 transaction with the notation “parking at the jail.” That item begs a few questions, like what jail, where, and most importantly, why?

Whatever the answers, we struggle to see how that would qualify as an educational expense.

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