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Sunnyside School District gets A+ from state auditors

The news in the Sunnyside School District just keeps getting better. Just last week the high school had its largest number of graduates ever, 326. A target set last fall of graduating at least 65 percent of the school's seniors is expected to be met.

And most recently the school district received a glowing report from the Washington State Auditor's Office.

Sunnyside Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole said the clean audit report is a direct result of former school district business manager Angela Watts and current business manager Jeff Loe.

"I'm feeling very positive about the operations of our fiscal system," Cole said. "It's very clean and efficient."

The audit covered the period from Sept. 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2010. The auditor's office looked into how the Sunnyside School District spent approximately $10 million. Of those funds, approximately $3.1 million came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and from stimulus money.

Sunnyside School District operates five elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school.

The audit covered two areas; financial statements and federal awards.

In looking at internal control over financial reporting, the auditors looked at two areas; deficiencies and weaknesses.

"We reported no deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be significant deficiencies," the report stated.

The auditors were unable to identify any material weaknesses in the control over financial statements, as well.

"We noted no instances of noncompliance that were material to the financial statements of the district," the report concluded.

In the federal awards area the auditors again looked at deficiencies and weaknesses and again gave the district a glowing report.

The auditors were unable to find any deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control over the major federal programs. No material weaknesses were identified, as well.

What impressed Cole so much about the report was that when the district received the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and stimulus monies, there were no guidelines given as how to spend the funds. This required the district to come up with its own interpretations and make its own decisions.

"I'm very happy with the results," he said.

The auditor also reported that the school district has fully corrected a previous finding when auditors found that the school district's internal controls were inadequate to ensure compliance with federal procurement and suspension and debarment requirements.

This was during the period of Sept. 1, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2009.

When purchasing goods and services with federal funds, local governments must follow state laws and the federal circular A-102 common rule. State law requires school districts to obtain quotes for supplies and materials for purchases that exceed $40,000 and competitively bid supplies and materials for purchases that exceed $75,000.

The 2008-09 report stated that the school district was a member of a regional co-op and obtained a portion of its food service supplies through the cooperative's contract. The district was unable to provide an inter-local agreement for the co-op and documentation to show it met procurement requirements.

In addition, the district could not show the co-op had verified suspension and debarment status for this vendor. The district had no documentation to show it met competitive procurement or suspension and debarment requirements for two additional food service vendors. According to the report, the district paid these two vendors a total of $249,349.

Since then, the district has fully complied with all procurement procedures and inter-local agreements. The district switched to a new system so it could include food service vendors in the district's suspension and debarment process for vendors. With this change, these food service vendors are now checked each month for suspension and debarment.

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