Snohomish schools make changes after audit

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish School District is making some policy changes based on a report by the state Auditor’s Office.

A regular agency audit called for the district to better protect assets against theft and called attention to issues with the new Snohomish Aquatic Center.

The audit mostly covered the period from Sept. 1, 2012, through Aug. 31, 2013 but included the aquatic center opening on Maple Avenue this January.

The aquatic center brought in $154,796 during the first month of operation.

The district contracted with the YMCA of Snohomish County to help with the opening. Initially, the district wanted the YMCA to run the aquatic center. Later, school officials decided it would instead be operated by the district. The opening date was also delayed.

Because the district changed course, contract tweaks were needed, said Tom Laufmann, the district’s director of business services and operations. The audit said the district was not in full compliance with the original contract, which was drafted a year ago.

The district paid $3,315 to relocate the center’s new director, Chris Bensen, from Long Island, New York, but the contract did not include moving expenses.

Laufmann said the district did not put those costs in the contract because it assumed a local person would be hired.

The audit also found differences between the contract amounts and actual pay for Bensen and three YMCA employees who helped open the aquatic center. The amounts ranged from as much as $1.86 more an hour to $1.48 less than the contract allowed per hour.

The district also spent $3,702 to pay wages and benefits for a business manager for the center. That cost was not included in the contract because the district did not plan to operate the center, Laufmann said.

The audit also called attention to $41,514 the YMCA owed to the district. Laufmann said the district has since received those funds.

The contract has ended, and the district is now fully operating the aquatic center, he said.

Laufmann expects the center to be financially healthy when the revenue report at the end of the fiscal year comes out in August. Kristin Foley, the district spokeswoman, said swim sessions and classes have been well attended.

The auditors also looked at how the district safeguards its assets. The report recommended that the district protect all theft-sensitive items, particularly in the transportation, maintenance and music departments.

District policy requires the tracking of items worth $5,000 or more. It also protects computers.

The audit cited losses due to a bus mechanic who took radios and other property.

The district investigated and confirmed the mechanic sold one radio worth $237. That employee is no longer with the district, Foley said.

Laufmann said administrators are reviewing the way expensive items that are not protected, such as radios, tires and musical instruments, are tracked.

“It’s about what we want to track and what’s a reasonable way to do it,” he said.

He plans to come up with a better system and present it to the school board for consideration in coming months.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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