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Audit Faults San Diego Unified Schools Grant Management

An audit by the California Department of Finance has found that the San Diego Unified School District "did not adequately monitor and review subcontractor costs" regarding a grant made for the district's "Reducing DUI Among San Diego’s Latino Youth" program.

According to the January report, accompanied by a cover letter dated February 16, the school district "did not request detailed activity reports from subcontractors to support the hours billed," resulting in the possiblity that the program may have been double-charged "for 51 of the 147 days worked between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010."

The object of the $100,880 grant, made to the district by the state Office of Traffic Safety in 2009, was "to reduce driving under the influence (DUI) among San Diego's Spanish speaking youth," the report said.

"The grant provided funding for televised youth-led campaigns and public service announcements in Spanish. The program is designed to raise the perception of risks related to underage drinking and DUI, and reduce the number of fatal and injury collisions of DUI drivers under the age of 21."

However, auditors questioned the program's management and effectiveness.

"Because the District was not closely monitoring the subcontractor work and adequately reviewing the invoices, it was not aware the contractor invoiced 15.5 to 16 hours on some days (representing $19,000) to the two grants."

The nature or amount of the second grant wasn't given.

The audit report went on to say that "Invoices from another subcontractor contained mathematical errors totaling $1,045. While adjustments of $442 were identified, it is unclear whether the 
balance of the errors was resolved."

The auditors noted that "Without proper monitoring and review of expenditures, there is an increased risk of grant funds being misused and grant objectives not being fully met."

"The District could not document that it met the grant objectives," the report also found.

Among the project's unmet objectives, the audit said, was the production of "20 anti-youth DUI television morning show interview segments, each to be aired twice on a local Spanish- speaking television network."

Only ten were produced, according to the review.

In addition, a public service announcement produced during the term of the grant "aired 138 times and should have aired 220 times during this period"

A January 30 response to the state's findings by Agin A. Shaheed and Brenda J. Brigham of the school district's Race, Human Relations, and Advocacy program maintained that the grant had been adequately managed.

"Detailed activity requests may not have been requested. but working in cooperation with the accounting department and budget, we know that the sub­contractors did not exceed the amount indicated in their respective agreements with the district.

"This grant was straight out of San Diego State University (SDSU), and the contractors were and are very familiar with the guidelines and procedures for accomplishing all aspects of the grant."

Regarding the reduced number of promotional spots aired, the pair wrote:

"Since the airing of the interview segments covered better than half of the 220 times mentioned in the grant, it seems that the resulting 138 PSA's were deemed enough based on not only the ten stated objectives, but the actual time Univision had available to produce the ads at certain times vs. other times, the monies available to cover 10 not 20 ads, and the understanding that this grant was only one year of a two year grant.

"The subcontractors feel that the goal of airing the PSAs in a timely manner was accomplished. Their relationship with Univision has existed over an extended period of time, and the staff at Univision consistently displayed the utmost in integrity and professionalism."

Department of Finance auditors remained unpersuaded:

"The District did not provide adequate facts with documentation to support report modification. Therefore, the observations and recommendations will remain unchanged."

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An audit by the California Department of Finance has found that the San Diego Unified School District "did not adequately monitor and review subcontractor costs" regarding a grant made for the district's "Reducing DUI Among San Diego’s Latino Youth" program.

According to the January report, accompanied by a cover letter dated February 16, the school district "did not request detailed activity reports from subcontractors to support the hours billed," resulting in the possiblity that the program may have been double-charged "for 51 of the 147 days worked between October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010."

The object of the $100,880 grant, made to the district by the state Office of Traffic Safety in 2009, was "to reduce driving under the influence (DUI) among San Diego's Spanish speaking youth," the report said.

"The grant provided funding for televised youth-led campaigns and public service announcements in Spanish. The program is designed to raise the perception of risks related to underage drinking and DUI, and reduce the number of fatal and injury collisions of DUI drivers under the age of 21."

However, auditors questioned the program's management and effectiveness.

"Because the District was not closely monitoring the subcontractor work and adequately reviewing the invoices, it was not aware the contractor invoiced 15.5 to 16 hours on some days (representing $19,000) to the two grants."

The nature or amount of the second grant wasn't given.

The audit report went on to say that "Invoices from another subcontractor contained mathematical errors totaling $1,045. While adjustments of $442 were identified, it is unclear whether the 
balance of the errors was resolved."

The auditors noted that "Without proper monitoring and review of expenditures, there is an increased risk of grant funds being misused and grant objectives not being fully met."

"The District could not document that it met the grant objectives," the report also found.

Among the project's unmet objectives, the audit said, was the production of "20 anti-youth DUI television morning show interview segments, each to be aired twice on a local Spanish- speaking television network."

Only ten were produced, according to the review.

In addition, a public service announcement produced during the term of the grant "aired 138 times and should have aired 220 times during this period"

A January 30 response to the state's findings by Agin A. Shaheed and Brenda J. Brigham of the school district's Race, Human Relations, and Advocacy program maintained that the grant had been adequately managed.

"Detailed activity requests may not have been requested. but working in cooperation with the accounting department and budget, we know that the sub­contractors did not exceed the amount indicated in their respective agreements with the district.

"This grant was straight out of San Diego State University (SDSU), and the contractors were and are very familiar with the guidelines and procedures for accomplishing all aspects of the grant."

Regarding the reduced number of promotional spots aired, the pair wrote:

"Since the airing of the interview segments covered better than half of the 220 times mentioned in the grant, it seems that the resulting 138 PSA's were deemed enough based on not only the ten stated objectives, but the actual time Univision had available to produce the ads at certain times vs. other times, the monies available to cover 10 not 20 ads, and the understanding that this grant was only one year of a two year grant.

"The subcontractors feel that the goal of airing the PSAs in a timely manner was accomplished. Their relationship with Univision has existed over an extended period of time, and the staff at Univision consistently displayed the utmost in integrity and professionalism."

Department of Finance auditors remained unpersuaded:

"The District did not provide adequate facts with documentation to support report modification. Therefore, the observations and recommendations will remain unchanged."

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Comments
2

If they misuse and fail to account for grant funds, you can bet that the same lack of control exists for all the funding. That school district has been wretchedly run for decades, and it gets worse all the time. Leadership failures at the superintendent level are partly responsible, but sheer size is another reason. Here in No county there is a campaign to unify (merge) the two school districts in Escondido, one of which is the elementary district, the other the high school district. Proponents are in favor because they say it will eliminate duplication of boards, headquarters facilities, and top admin posts, including superintendent. Makes sense, doesn't it? Well, if bigger meant better, our nation's sixth-largest school district would be one of the best operations in the world. It isn't anything like that. Size does not guarantee quality in government or public entities. It guarantees inefficiency and weakness. Another example is Sweetwater, which claims to be the largest high school district in the nation. Not only is it inefficient and unresponsive to the community, it is corrupt and probably is likely to go bankrupt. Nope, home rule for schools works better.

March 1, 2012

All "reforms" and systems have down-sides. Big, small; citywide, district- only; public, private; top-down, bottom-up. When one fails over time, change becomes the order of the day, and the cycle repeats itself. Regardless, oversight is required -- and excuses just won't cut it.

March 1, 2012

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