By David Carroll

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- Former Hamilton County School Board member Janice Boydston, who has recently come under fire for receiving a $21,750 lump-sum retirement payment, was also the only Board member to request mileage allowances for visiting schools in her district, and for other school-related trips.

Records requested by WRCB show that Boydston received the maximum of $1200 ($100 per month) from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.  Chief Financial Officer Tommy Kranz told Eyewitness News, "It has been the practice of the School District to provide each Board member with a monthly car allowance of $100 to cover the cost of visiting schools and other school related activities."  Records show the District allows fifty cents per mile on mileage requests.

However, Boydston was the only Board member to request, and to receive any mileage money in the 2009-10 school year.  Each month she turned in mileage surpassing the $100 limit, but received only the maximum payment of $100 in each month.  She listed several visits to the schools in District 6, which she represents. Those include Lookout Valley, Chattanooga High and East Lake Academy.  She also turned in mileage requests for monthly School Board meetings, visits with Superintendent Jim Scales and CFO Kranz, a retirement reception at the Central Office, VIP luncheons, press conferences, Chamber of Commerce meetings, Benwood Foundation functions, community meetings, an NAACP forum, and school graduations.

Boydston said, "When I first joined the School Board I was told I was entitled to mileage, and to put it all down.  I went a lot of places each month, and that adds up to a lot of wear and tear on my car."  When asked why she was the only Board member who turned in the mileage check requests, she said, "You would have to ask the other Board members that question.  They either didn't want it, or didn't know about it.  It's not any of my business why they didn't turn in their mileage."

Hamilton County District 9 Commissioner Chester Bankston, who served on the School Board until August 31, was among the eight School Board members who did not request compensation for mileage.  "It just wasn't worth the trouble," Bankston said.  I probably drove three times more than she did because my district is so much bigger, but I just didn't request it." 

Board chairman Everett Fairchild, who represents District 3 said, "I just chose not to do it.  That's just a decision I made when I was first elected.  There's nothing wrong with asking for it, I just chose not to."

Boydston was the subject of criticism from Board members recently when it became known that she had requested her $21,750 lump sum retirement payment immediately after it was first approved by the Board on August 19.  Four days later, the money had been deposited into her credit union account.  The matter came up for another vote on August 31, with opposing Board members coming up one vote short in their effort to overturn the decision.  If that had been done, Boydston said, "I would have returned the money."

Bankston said he still had not received his retirement check for $3,000, which he plans to distribute to the schools in his district.   "I've asked for it several times, but haven't gotten anything," he said.