Lessons for life: When you are on welfare, don't order the caviar and lobster. If you are a homeless person, don't buy a top hat. And if you work for the Wilkinsburg School District, don't organize a retreat at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
Not that's there's anything wrong with fine food, silk lids or swanky resorts. Not that's there's anything wrong with professional retreats where leaders in the public or private sector can go to get away from the office to focus on finding solutions to problems.
But there's a lot wrong with how Wilkinsburg went about its retreat for school administrators last month. The district was blind to its financial crisis, blind to its priorities and blind to the public impression it was making.
As described by Post-Gazette reporter Eleanor Chute in a story Sunday, the Wilkinsburg district is on the state's financial watch list, it took out a $3 million loan and voted to cut some teaching and administrative positions.
For its Aug. 13-14 retreat, Wilkinsburg needed to find a modest place to get away, as other school districts do. Instead, it went to Nemacolin, where 10 administrators and three consultants ran up a tab of $15,665.50. That included $1,300 in gift cards and $85.50 dinners.
It seems no expense was spared in a district where expense really needs to be spared. School member Raymond Griffith justified it by saying that retreats are a tradition in Wilkinsburg. How about a tradition of minding the taxpayers' money?