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Overnight Trip For Secretaries ‘Good Practice’

In the face of criticism that she spent tax dollars unwisely, the state superintendent of public instruction is defending a $24,000 overnight conference for 145 state-paid secretaries last spring.

“This is a good practice that maybe should be emulated by others,” spokesman Ricardo Sanchez said.

Sanchez is communications director for state Superintendent Judith Billings. He said she believes strongly that the 145 secretaries do important work in providing information to the public and making offices run well.

He said Billings thinks that the May 12-13 conference offered an opportunity to improve their skills.

Meanwhile, examiners for state Auditor Brian Sonntag are questioning the need to send so many secretaries to a Bellevue hotel for a two-day conference that included a fashion show and a presentation on how to fix “low-fat meals in minutes,” according to investigative files unveiled this week.

Their final report said Billings’ agency failed to justify using the hotel instead of a state-owned facility.