Thursday, December 2, 2021
Dec. 2, 2021

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State auditor knocks La Center schools over special ed funding

Report says district didn’t have adequate control over federal grants

By , Columbian staff writer

The Washington State Auditor’s Office has issued two findings against the La Center School District over inadequate financial reporting and compliance with federal grant money during the 2019-20 school year.

The report, released this week, showed the 1,583-student district in north Clark County failed to have adequate control over accurate financial reporting and inadequate control to ensure compliance with federal requirements for the more than $300,000 in special education funds it received last school year.

During the 2020 fiscal year, La Center received $348,359 in grant money designated for pre-K-12 special education programs with funds from the U.S. Department of Education. The report showed 93 percent of the grant expenditures went toward staff salaries and benefits, but noted the district failed to provide proper documentation of the costs charged to the program. The district did, however, provide an alternative method of documentation.

The district said it was not aware of proper federal documentation requirements due to inadequate staff training. Until recently, the program previously was managed by Educational Service District 112, according to the report.

Financially, the audit found the district over-reported total federal expenditures by $44,986, and over-reported and under-reported errors in assets, revenue and expenditures.

In response, the district said it will have monthly reconciliations and year-end financial statements independently reviewed by ESD 112, and any other materials questioned will be reviewed by ESD 112 for accuracy.

In a previous audit, the state said La Center did not have adequate controls to ensure accurate financial reporting during the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years, which hindered the district’s ability to produce accurate financial statements, according to the report. During that time, the district said it had a change in business managers, and noted several business manager changes since 2014.