The Edmonds School District plans to contest a state auditor’s finding that it was overpaid $1.1 million—almost half of the school's funding—in 2010-2011 for its Edmonds Heights K-12 ALE program.
The State Auditor's Office issued the finding due to what it said was lack of adequate internal controls regarding enrollment reporting at the alternative learning environment school, stemming from issues with a new software system implemented during that school year.
The district plans to contest the amount of the overpayment, a district spokeswoman, D.J. Jakala, told Patch.
“OSPI (the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) will be notified by the State Auditor’s Office of the finding. OSPI will send the district a letter regarding the finding and ask if we want to appeal. In the case of our District, we are going to respond ‘yes’ and that will start the appeal process,” she said. Due to the number of ALE findings statewide, Jakala said it could take a year to resolve.
Whatever amount the district is required to pay after the appeal, if any, would come from its general fund, Jakala said.
The problems stemmed from the launch of a new, custom software program at the alternative learning environment program, which formerly was named Home School Resource Center. The district runs a parent partnership program at the school, where individual learning plans are developed by parents for students under the guidance of certificated teachers. The parents select from district-taught classes, contracted workshop classes pre-approved by the District, and home-learning classes.
The auditor’s finding states that the new database system “did not record when and who approved many student learning plans and progress evaluations,” resulting in insufficient documentation to support the funding, based on student enrollment, that the district received.
Jakala said the issues with the software are resolved, and the district criticized the audit process in its response to the finding (attached here as a pdf.)
The district said in its response that it apprised the auditor’s office of the software challenges it faced at the start of the audit, and said the audit team didn’t communicate with district staff well enough before pulling data from the new system. Out of more than 300 hours the auditors had to complete the review of the district, audit staff spent just four hours onsite at Edmonds Heights, the district said. Additionally, the district charges that the amount of overpayment charged is much higher than the finding supports.
The auditor’s office, in its response, said it understands the district’s frustration, but stood by its finding.
According to the auditor’s office, in the 2010-2011 school year, the District received approximately $99 million in combined funding based on its enrollment and the education and experience of its teachers. The District’s ALE program received approximately $2.4 million.