Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is ready for some astonishing news?

Here is the agenda (posted today) for today's meeting of the Audit & Finance Committee:

Thursday Sept. 23, 2010 ~~~ 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Audit Issues

Agenda
1. Call to Order
- a. Board members present
- b. Approval of agenda
- c. Approval of 8/26 meeting minutes

2. Committee Discussion
60 min - a. Review of audit response (starting with A5.16)
15 min - b. Review finance policy work plan H. Ferguson
05 min - c. Discuss Board Resolution regarding audit responses H. Ferguson
15 min - d. Update outlining changes from last A&F Committee Mtg. D. Harman
15 min - e. Update on CGCS Conf. to include learning regarding key indicators and internal controls D. Kennedy
- f. RFP for external audit firm
10 min- g. Discuss addition of public member to Audit Committee S. Carr

If I right leave now, I might get there in time to witness this last discussion item with my own eyes.

11 comments:

dan dempsey said...

Yet another example of transparency and the desire for engagement with the community .... post the agenda the day of the meeting.

So just how authentic is that desire for public engagement?

Jan said...

I hope, HOPE, that they do add a member of the public to the audit committee -- and that, when they do, they go out and get an auditor type with tons of experience, who will not let his/her reputation in the audit community become tarnished by involvement with anything less than solid, clean, transparent financial statements and operations, who will understand (and apprciate) the enormity of the audit findings, and who will demand (on threat of resignation) that the District get its house in order.

It would be a huge step forward!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was there until 5:30 but they were way behind so I wonder if they got there. It was sort of a funny meeting as they went through each finding. I'll try to write a thread tomorrow as there is more pressing news now.

kprugman said...

Ridiculous, the only way you'll get transparency and a clean audit is if SEA backs its own candidates for school board and that is a long-shot. Our union has done so much more for its community. There has to be a point where you drive your sword into the sand; otherwise, you are doomed for failure.

Getting candidates to pledge no donations from builders and non-profits would definitely improve the ethics behind school board elections and the district's budget - should be on the NY Times bestseller list.

There's a lot of money to be made by keeping the district broken - Between the Alliance and the builders putting their hands into each others pockets, no wonder there's not much left to spend on education.

The UW 'think-tank' is a spin factory.

Charlie Mas said...

Sorry to have missed you, Mel. I got there at 5:45 and heard the discussion of only the last three items.

The public member of the Committee, if they choose to add one, would be someone with real auditing credentials. That person would be a full member of the Committee, but not a voting member. That's not much of a concession as these committees rarely vote on anything. They almost always just discuss until they reach consensus.

Seattle Parent said...

Did I miss something- when did the A&F Committee review the fifteen items # A1.1- A5.15?

The last time the A&F Committee covered audit issues I believe was at the 8/23 meeting, but from Meg's notes it sounded like Carr said "the board was going to discuss finding #5 (rather than have district staff provide input)." Does this mean the whole Board, at some later date were going to review all the 28 findings in section #5 (especially covering Board oversight, enforcement & compliance to policies & laws, or lack of it)?

What happened to the specific review of the first A.1.1- A5.15 issues, if the current meeting was starting with A5.16?

The only item in the Audit Response matrix marked "not addressed" but with "high" on the 09-10 findings was in Apportionment: Basic Enrollment Reporting. When will the current student data system be reviewed so that actual weekly minutes of instruction can be accurately recorded, as required by the FTE rules? This is directly tied to student funding- how can they ignore this requirement?

Seattle Parent said...

Melissa & Charlie,
If the A&F Committee were covering each item, starting at A5.15, how far did they actually review? Did they actually cover everything from page 6 all the way through page 12? My quick count shows 45 items (plus the additional 23 items listed as not reviewed in this meeting).

Wow, 68 items the audit (listed in the matrix) has identified that Seattle "Failed" on. Only 6 were listed as ongoing from previous years, the rest all new items!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll try to post my account of the meeting but yes, apparently they did go thru items A1-A5.15 at the last meeting. One thing that kind of worries me is the "real" minutes. There is a staff person taking notes but it doesn't look like it gets very detailed. So who knows what was said by staff for each one and what is being done? I'll have to ask for the minutes from this meeting and see how they compare with mine. (Not saying I take better minutes but I try to get a lot of detail.)

Seattle Parent said...

Thanks, Melissa.
If you would ask for the minutes from both A&F meetings covering the audit (I believe they were 8/23 and 9/23) that would be great. Although I don't hold my breath on their minutes- previous minutes I've seen from other Board committee meetings are just a mirror image of the agenda with no detail whatsoever (even the regular Board meeting are like that).

They really should look at the State Board of Education meeting minutes. Someone over there is doing a great job of capturing not only the highlights but also details of discussions, especially before decisions are made.

I wonder why they cannot record the audio to all of these meetings. The State Board meetings do this, and the audio can be requested & is sent electronically.

If there is a legal requirement that minutes must be taken and they are not woth the paper they are written on, then why not require both minutes and a voice recording at each meeting? Especially for the public who cannot attend each meeting at 4:00pm, this would go a long way towards improved transparency and community outreach.

Dorothy Neville said...

Seattle Parent, I was at the 8/23 audit meeting and I thought it was videotaped. I don't know who to ask to find out for sure, but that would certainly be better than the sketchy minutes our district seems fond of.

Seattle Parent said...

Thanks, Dorothy. I'll ask the Board office Monday about that.
Besides, didn't the Audit say the Board was to have minutes "recorded and on file"? And in the matrix it says this finding was rectified as of the Summer of 2009.

Funny- there's never been minutes posted online from the Board Committee meetings that I've seen, not even on the new handy dandy spreadsheet with all of the committees listed, with a place for links to agendas and minutes (starting only from Sept. 2010). Even though there were 4 meetings so far this month, still no minutes are posted.

That's the Catch 22 of minutes- if it's a monthly meeting & the minutes are only approved at the following month's meeting, it's too late for the community to be able to be informed on any current issues in time to have any opportunities for any timely and meaningful input.