In a rather rich irony, it appears that Nick Kotsopoulos in his Sunday column lauding the city's transparency in putting the checkbook up online, neglected to do much WPS online research for the rest of his column. In saying, for example, this:
Believe me, there is some eye-opening stuff in the travel account alone....he never bothered to check this (page 86):
Based on a quick perusal of that account, it does not look as though any of the public school or municipal employees who attend out-of-state conferences, workshops, seminars etc. are staying at Econo Lodges or other discount hotels in their travels.
which shows a zeroed-out Worcester Public Schools out-of-state travel account. (There is out-of-state travel, but it is always required and thus covered by grants; aka: we have to send people as a condition of the grant, and the grant pays for it.)
As for WPS in-state travel (page 107), it was funded by city funds at $81,619 for FY11. There's a couple of things in this that you might not expect. For example, itinerant teachers (teachers who teach in more than one building) are paid 50 (now, as of last week, 51) cents a mile in their travel between or among schools. That's not exactly a jet-set expense, but it's a real one. This also covers in-state conferences (including one I went to; the Mass Association of School Committee conference in Hyannis came out of this account), which means that it covers a lot of mileage (and probably some Pike tolls), but not a lot of hotel rooms.
As both the city budget and the WPS budget are up online, a minute or two to check accounts would have cleared this up, but I suppose that would have made for a less-dramatic column.