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State audit of local schools reveals snafu with paperwork

A state auditor's recent report shows a finding against the Sunnyside School District.

The report, released Oct. 27, noted that the district was unable to verify records showing income eligibility for students participating in a reduced or free meal program administered through the federal government.

"Sunnyside School District No. 201 did not retain income verification documentation to support its compliance with federal requirements for the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs," the finding reads.

It continues, "When we asked the District for its verification records, District officials stated the income verification was completed, but could not provide us with documentation to support that it has occurred," the audit report stated.

The audit covered the district's financial reporting between Sept. 1, 2004 through Aug. 31, 2005.

"There was some missing documentation that we originally had for the food services department," explained Dr. Rick Cole, Sunnyside School Superintendent.

He said the state's audit occurred shortly after the state superintendent's office had conducted a routine audit of the district.

Cole also noted that both audits took place just as the district's new food services director, Bob Toomer, was starting work for the district.

The missing documents, which Cole said involved four or five files, were presented to the state superintendent's auditors but came up missing for the state auditor's inspection.

Cole thinks the files were misfiled or inadvertently picked up and taken away among the state superintendent auditor's paperwork.

"They got placed somewhere or were misfiled," Cole said. "But either way it speaks to the importance of having two copies on file."

As a result of the audit finding, Cole said the district will keep on file a second copy of the income verification forms at the administrative building at Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street. The district will continue to keep the original files at the Denny Blaine building.

The Sunnyside School District received nearly $1.2 million in federal funds through the meal program in 2004-05. Cole said none of those funds will have to be returned as a result of the audit finding. "It's more of a documentation issue," he said.

The auditor's report showed the district had no other instances of non-compliance with state standards, including the district's financial records.

The report summarizes, "In our opinion, the financial statements...present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of Sunnyside School District No. 201 as of August 31, 2005."

The state auditor's office closed the report by noting it will review the status of the district's income verification records during next year's audit.

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