Thursday, October 07, 2010

Board Response to State Audit

I am gravely disappointed in the Board response to the State Audit.

Mostly what I have seen so far is a lot of high-sounding language and lot of meaningless activity. Rather than accepting any oversight responsibility, the Board has just added a couple of tasks to the staff's to do list and called it good.

One of the most frustrating elements of the Board response is their insularity. They have built Audit Response Teams out of the very same people who didn't see anything wrong with their processes and practices before the audit (and probably still don't). They need to include on those teams some of the people who were telling them - at the time - that their oversight was inadequate. The people they have chose to fix the system are the very same people who denied that it was broken.

7 comments:

Sahila said...

Charlie... did you really expect anything different???? C'mon....

Bruce Taylor said...

Frequent reference is made to the state audit. I've never actually read it. Would you be so kind as to post a (another?) link to it?

Sahila said...

for bruce:
http://www.sao.wa.gov/findings/1003871.pdf

and also:
http://www.sao.wa.gov/AuditReports/AuditReportFiles/ar1003871.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

In summary,here is what I said about the Board's Resolution on the audit:
(note: there are a lot of Whereas in the resolution, not numbered, but I counted so when I refer to number 8, it's the 8th whereas):

- whereas #8, refers to the Board "to exercise its oversight", I asked them how we would know it as they have almost never stood up to the Super or staff so it would be hard to recognize.

-whereas #11, says the Board will continue to oversee audit response work to ensure it is successfully implemented - are we to take you at your word or will there will be webpage to follow the progress? Where is the public accountability for what you do in response to this audit? (Note: Mr. Kennedy, in his remarks, said there will be a webpage.)

- they note that the responses to all the findings will take time and I pointed out that's fine but where is a timeline for getting it done?

- Whereas #13 talks about "exploring" ways to increase transparency and public oversight. I told them if they don't know what this is by now, to not bother. (I'm sorry but that is complete BS on their part - either they do it or they don't.)

- Whereas #14, how to pay for all this work. It says they will "reallocate current funding streams including state, federal, local capital or operating levy funds or grant funds. So kids, that means everywhere and anywhere. Will it be documented, ever, how much they spend and where it came from? No. So much for transparency and accountability.

I also called out DeBell because he had said on KUOW that the recall case had cost money and time that could have gone into the classroom. I asked, "What do you call this incredible amount of time and money that is going to not go to the classroom because this district cannot manage its day-to-day operations?" The answer to that is A LOT OF MONEY AND TIME.

- I also said that I believed that in some small way that the volume of work being put upon some staff may have caused them to take shortcuts. That with all the new initiatives they have a tidal wave of work and may not always be following regulations and policies. Not an excuse but I think it may be a reason.

Here's what the League of Women Voters had to say about the audit and the upcoming levy:

"The League of Women Voters decided to take "no position" on the Seattle Public School Proposition was approved. The League of Women Voters of Seattle endorsed the February 2010 Seattle Public Schools Levies but at the time expressed concerns about authentic engagement with the community and the continuing lack of adequate state funding. With the 2010 audit results this summer, we are additionally concerned about responsible, transparent use of the Seattle Public School's resources for the benefit of children in the classroom and accountability to the voters. While our positions state that “all levels of government are responsible for schools” we also “oppose the use of special levies and private funding for basic services, operation and maintenance.” It is for these reasons that we are taking no position on the current levy."

Dorothy Neville said...

If you want to see the FULL Audit report, which includes the financial and the accountability findings AND all the other items that did not individually constitute findings (result in verbal report or management letter) but that were included in supporting the main governance finding then I can help.

I have posted that as a google doc
and if that link doesn't work for you, send me an email and I will send you a copy. My email address is in my blog profile.

Charlie Mas said...

I have written to the Board and expressed to them my dissatisfaction with their response to the audit.

It might make a difference if others did the same.

Sandy Blight said...

We need action. What the board has done is accept excuses from the staff, and a vague action plan about audit responses. The SPS system spends many hours on meetings and the Audit Response team is another such team that the board has accepted - led by the former Comptroller, Ronic Lirio. This is not action, this is shifting blame from on something other than the facing the real problem. The Audit & Finance Committee meets on Tuesdays and although no one may ask questions, it is a public meeting where you learn how the SPS system spends your money. I am gravely concerned that we do not the ability to produce financial statements - the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is a standard report that Tacoma District produces. Why is it that we are unable to provide a real reason to not producing this report? Why is there so much secrecy to the finances of the School District #1? The public should demand an audit of Executive salaries. I urge Betty Patu to look into this issue.