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Danbury’s 3,000 dollar question


Picture of Desert Edge High School, Goodyear, Ariz.

Since my initial post on the outrage stemming from the Danbury school board’s site visit to Arizona, my email has been flooded with questions regarding the cost of the trip.

Here’s what’s been reported in the press. From the News-Times 06.03.09.

School Superintendent Sal Pascarella said five people, including himself, took the trip last Thursday to interview one of two finalists for high school principal.

Both candidates previously traveled to the Danbury for the initial stages of the interview process, he said.

Others on the two-day trip, which Pascarella said cost about $3,000, were two high school administrators and education board members Irving Fox and Rachel Austin.

[…]

School officials said the group had one overnight stay at an airport hotel during the two-day trip.

Many people have questioned the amount of the trip and have asked me to look into it and see if Superintendent Pascarella’s figure is accurate.

Here’s my analysis.

1. The flight:

From what we know, the site visit was to Desert Edge High School, in Goodyear, Ariz. Since the closest mayor city to Goodyear is Phoenix, it’s logical to assume that the people who went on the site visit, flew from either Connecticut or New York to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport:

Since there is no way for me to find out how much a round trip flight to Phoenix cost at the time of the site visit (unless I filed an FOIA request with the school administration), using Priceline.com, I did an cost analysis on a trip to Arizona based on 6/22 to 6/24 (or aprox. 30 days from the time of the site visit:

• 5 tickets roundtrip from New York City (JFK, Newark) to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) cost anywhere between 409-532 dollars per person for a total of 2045-2660 dollars.

• 5 roundtrip tickets from Bradley International Airport (BDL) to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) ranged anywhere between 638 and 1110 dollars per person for a total of 3190-5550 dollars.

2. Hotel

From what we know, those who went on the site visit to Arizona “one overnight stay at an airport hotel during the two-day trip.” Using the simple search, I calculated the cost for a two bed hotel room for one night near the airport.

Here are my results.

• Econo Lodge (2 beds): 60.00 per night

• Best Western (2 beds): 59.49 per night.

• Holiday Inn (2 beds): 99.00 per night.

Finally, I factored in the car rental cost in order for those on the site visit to travel from the airport to the High School:

• Rental for minivan ranged from anywhere between 83-88 dollars per day.

So, lets add things up:

Flight=2045-5550 dollars
Hotel=180-297 dollars (3 rooms/2 beds)
Rental=83-88 dollars
Total (estimated range)=2308-5938 dollars

Now, this is a REAL rough estimate in which I didn’t factor in other items such as food (don’t know if that cost can be reimbursed). You also have to factor in the fact that I did this analysis on June 15th and, as you know, the price of an airline flight depends on how soon you book your reservations.

Basically, in the end, it’s entirely possible that those who went on the site visit paid a total of 3,000 for the trip to Arizona although it’s quite reasonable to assume that the price tag for the trip could be much higher.

…in other words, the debate over the price for the trip continues.