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Mabton schools remedy state audit issue

MABTON - In a report issued this past Tuesday, state auditors delivered an audit finding against the Mabton School District.

The audit, and ensuing finding, covered the fiscal year Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2010.

Auditors dinged Mabton schools over a purchase of videoconferencing equipment made through ESD 112's contract with a private company.

The purchase, funded through a federal grant, totaled $265,872 and included videoconferencing equipment for Mabton and two other school districts.

The issue, say auditors, is that Mabton schools did not have an interlocal agreement with ESD 112 to purchase products through its contracts. ESD 112 covers an area that includes Vancouver.

Lack of inter-local contracts are a problem, auditors note, because otherwise school districts and other governments cannot ensure they are paying the lowest prices for equipment they purchase.

In the published report, the auditor's office states Mabton schools lacked an inter-local agreement with ESD 112 because "the district did not have a complete understanding" of state laws and requirements for purchases made with federal grant funds.

"District staff thought it had an inter-local agreement with the ESD, but could not provide any agreement," audit officials added.

In a written response, the Mabton School District reported to the auditor's office that it has "recently approved an inter-local agreement for cooperative purchasing with ESD 112."

The issue that prompted a finding took place before Superintendent Minerva Morales and Business Manager Gina Grow started work at Mabton schools last year.

Morales says it's not uncommon for schools to have inter-local agreements and cooperative efforts with ESDs outside of the Yakima Valley.

She says the finding regarding the lack of an inter-local agreement with ESD 112 has been resolved.

"It has been taken care of," Morales said. "The matter was a finding prior to our transitioning into the district, but Gina has taken the necessary action to remedy that."

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