Thursday, May 22, 2014

State Releases Audit of Seattle Schools' Federal Programs

State Auditor Troy Keller released his office's report on SPS's "financial statements and compliance with federal laws and regulations."

It's a lengthy report but that is because it contains page after page of district financial reports.  It makes for interesting reading if you have the time.   Page 49 has the investments that the City puts into SPS.

There were no major issues with financial statements or internal controls over major programs.  The programs reviewed were:
  • Child Nutrition - School Breakfast program
  • Child Nutrition - National School Lunch program
  • Title I, Part A Cluster - Title I grants to local educational agencies
  • High school graduation initiative
  • ARRA School Improvement Grants
  • Head Start

High School Graduation Initiative

The District did not have adequate internal controls to ensure all High School Graduation Initiative funds were used for allowed activities. 
In 2012-13, the district received from the DOE a high school grant for $2.2M over five years. It was to support "school dropout prevention and reentry efforts."  The Auditor's office reports that in the prior year's audit:

We found deficiencies in internal controls over compliance with program requirements that collectively constituted a material weakness and issued a qualified opinion on the District’s compliance with grant requirements. We reported noncompliance with activities allowed and allowable cost compliance requirements and questioned costs of $499,936, or 24 percent of the program total

This year they found:

We found the District used grant funds to pay for activities that were not allowed by the grant agreement or were not specifically approved by the federal grantor. Specifically:
The District claimed $61,348 in payroll costs for a Family Support Worker position that were not allowed by the grant. 

The District used $291 of grant funds to purchase a piece of furniture. This expenditure was not made for the purpose of the grant. 
So the Auditor is questioning these costs which total $61,640.  (Editor's note; that seems that a pretty good salary for a Family Support Worker.)  The district concurred and said that those costs are now back into the General Fund.  
On prior findings for The Indian Education grant, the Auditor had this to say:

The District has a long history of noncompliance with eligibility requirements for this program. In the past three audits, we reported findings and questioned costs for noncompliance. The District has not put into effect recommendations from prior audits. The District did not retain sufficient documentation in accordance with program guidance to demonstrate compliance with eligibility requirements. We questioned costs for 29 students or $6,530. 
They say that this issue is "partially corrected."  It appears that the district is moving towards having all the issues corrected.  It's only taken four years so cross your fingers for next year. 


Anonymous said...

What about IDEA? I don't know if you would consider IDEA a "program", but there are federal funds attached to IDEA. The district receives around $12 Million per year for IDEA and recently was authorized to spend up to $1.6 million of that on consulting services, TIERS Group is one of those consultants.


Since the district is currently being audited by the feds and the state for non IDEA compliance, it would be interesting to see where they stand with the audit and details of where the money is spent.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, the Auditor doesn't cover every program in every audit. I suspect that since the feds are involved, his office may have thought they could direct their efforts elsewhere.

mirmac1 said...

After a much delayed public records request, I have evidence that Ballard High School did not learn its lesson regarding misusing special education funds.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1, anyway you could post a link to those or tell us more? Does OSPI know?


mirmac1 said...

The SAO and OSPI will get this info.

Anonymous said...

Please make the Ballad High school misappropriation information public!! Senator Murray is very interested in that issue.She just needs proof before she takes action.

I recently had a meeting with Heather Brown the NW district SPED supervisor about the problems at Ingraham High such as keeping IEP students out of the IB program and other issues. She offered to move us to Ballard which I replied " that's the school that stole SPED money for Gen ed" Her reply was, " that's a story made up by angry SPED parents".

Let's get this proof out there ASAP for the feds to see.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Why would Ingraham want to keep Sped students out of IB?

mirmac1 said...

Heather Brown needs some serious education. I"ll see she gets it before saying more ignorant things.

Anonymous said...

The IB program at Ingraham is greatly protected by Mr. Floe, they will not admit of coarse that they openly rejecting SPED students. It's a catch 22 situation where SPED students who are highly capable can't perform in APP while attending K-8th due to not being served. Most, if it all schools lack the evidence based methodologies and curriculum these students need to rise to the occasion.

Yes they have had the occasional aspergers student who goes into the program and they accommodate with extra time so the student can answer test questions in 9 languages.

Could you imagine asking an IB teacher to modify their teaching style or materials to accommodate a dyslexic student.

It will never happen!

It's interesting that the IB classes populated with the districts "best and brightest" sarcasm here get the pleasure of having only 14-16 students.

You would think because they are so smart they could manage with 35-30, which is ten less than the non IB classes have.

That would allow the classes with SPED students to have 20-30 which would possibly increase their chances of getting help.

The IB school is a separate school housed in Ingraham everyone knows this and knows of the discrimination against various groups who would benefit the most from exposure to the type of curriculum the IB program offers.

Once I deal with other more pressing issues I will focus on the discrimination going on at Ingraham with it's IB program. Stay tuned!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Michael, no matter what you feel about IB, it is not a separate school, it's a program.

Lynn said...

Can anyone confirm the IB class sizes at Ingraham? That sounds like hyperbole to me.

I don't think anyone at Ingraham can keep 2e highly capable students out of IBX. Every qualified student who requested a seat this year got one. You don't have to participate in APP from 1st-8th (doesn't exist in K by the way) to join in 9th at Ingraham either.

Joe Wolf said...

Re: Cost of a Family Service Worker

The figure cited represents the total cost of employment: Salary (mid-range of pay scale); SPS contribution to funding health insurance; SPS contribution to pension.

Please remember when the "$100K for a Teacher" straw man gets wheeled out next time, too.

Anonymous said...

forest through the trees Lynn,
forest through the trees!