1) Public testimony is full and "ethnic studies curriculum" dominates the roster, including teacher, Jon Greenberg and former school board director, Marty McLaren.
A Facebook group around this topic said they would have a "rally" during the Board meeting. I'm thinking they mean holding signs. I'm sure it will be lively.
2) There are also two people who will speak to a budget transfer that is to happen in capital funds for "energy efficiency projects."
This Board Action would transfer $1,595,632 in funding using the oldest unallocated levy funds first, from BEX II and BEX III capital program underspend, to create a project budget for the implementation of an energy efficiency project at six schools utilizing solar technology.This involves a grant from the Department of Commerce for $500,000 and would include nearly $150K in sales tax rebate from the State as well as $50K from Hazel World K-8 PTSA. It would involve six schools - Arbor Heights, Hazel Wolf, Ballard, Bailey Gatzert, Denny and South Shore - and the district says the "annual savings would provide a positive cash flow."
I don't have any problem in general with this kind of spending. What I do have a problem with is the idea that there is STILL cash flow from older BEX projects. To me, this BAR says there are no other maintenance/capital issues in any school throughout the district so this is a good use of the money.
We all know that is not a true statement and yet I'm sure the Board will go right along with this project.
3) Also of interest is the "announcement of completed Internal Audit." As you may know, the district does regular audits of schools. In this round of audits, Rainier Beach High School was one of them. There had been several findings, one of which needed some follow-up. From the Audit & Finance minutes:
Mr. (Andrew) Medina explained school audits are part of the internal audit annual plan, but Rainier Beach High School was selected for an audit because there were several complaints regarding untimely payments to vendors.
Director Peters asked how often is the fiscal specialist available or not available. Mr. Medina explained he was unable to determine that.
Mr. Medina explained if the procedures are not being followed, it would be put in his report as a recommendation.
Mr. Medina spoke about a finding related to the use of school facilities. Outside groups were allowed to use the school’s facilities in exchange for a donation, rather than following the District’s proper building rental procedures. Mr. Medina indicated that additional analysis would be necessary to determine if all donations received in exchange for using the school’s facilities were actually deposited with the school’s fiscal office.
Specifically, the report noted that the School did not follow District policies and procedures related to building rentals. It allowed outside groups to use its gymnasium without complying with the District’s facility rental requirements. Outside events were incorrectly categorized as internal girls’ basketball team events on the District’s official facility usage calendar. As a result, the event was considered to be rent-free when in fact rent should have been charged to the outside groups. In lieu of paying the established rental fees to the District’s Building Rentals Department, the outside groups made donations to the School’s girls’ basketball team. We noted instances in which the donations were deposited in to the team’s ASB account, however additional analysis was deemed necessary to determine if it contains all donations that were received by the School.Here's that "additional analysis."
Based on the results of the audit procedures performed, there is no evidence that the school received any donations that were not deposited into the school’s ASB Fund. We cannot determine the exact dates that the school’s facilities were used by outside organizations; however, we did determine that all known instances have been properly deposited. We also confirmed that the initial finding noted in our audit report dated December 13, 2016 is accurate, and we recommend that the District implement the corrective actions recommended in that report.
I do believe that whatever funds are generated by rental of school rooms, a percentage should come back to the school. I don't think that is currently in place.
But when you have slipshod handling of funds and principals deciding where the money goes (in this case, ASB, a worthy place for it to go), you open the district up for liability.