Audit: Gig Harbor area schools must clean up ASB bookkeeping

Tacoma News TribuneApril 21, 2014 

A state auditor’s report issued Monday says the Peninsula School District failed to implement timely recommendations made in an audit last year, which had raised concerns about the handling of money from student activities and fundraisers.

The result, auditors contend, is that some of the more than $1.1 million generated during the 2012-13 school year for the district’s Associated Student Body (ASB) fund could have been at risk.

The auditor’s report doesn’t document any losses or misappropriation of funds. But it does point to potential problems and urges the district to adopt stronger controls on money raised through tickets sold to school events, yearbook sales and other fundraisers.

Karen Andersen, chief financial officer for the Gig Harbor-area school district, said it’s taking steps to close gaps in oversight.

“We created an action plan to address problems,” Andersen said. “We have run it by auditors and they are pleased with our response.”

Auditors looked at ASB activities at Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools, and at Kopachuck Middle School. A total of 11 fundraisers were reviewed.

Andersen said some problems stemmed from procedures in which one person sold tickets and someone else collected money. She said those people could have been teachers, adult volunteers or students.

One finding determined that cash boxes from sporting events and other after-school activities were stored in a vault that was left unlocked. Andersen said it likely happened towards the end of the day and that there was “minimal access” to it.

She said the district has implemented changes that should help remedy the problems. For instance, district officials will make sure every school has the correct forms to document money raised and checklists to ensure all rules are followed.

She said there may have been confusion in the past with two major fundraisers: Gig Harbor High School holds its annual Tidefest, and Peninsula High School sponsors Winterfest.

“Inside those fundraisers are mini-fundraisers,” Andersen said.

She said new procedures should ensure that every club adviser knows what forms need to be completed before and after the events.

The district has vowed to make oversight a priority going forward.

“We will tighten it up and we’ll do a better job,” Andersen said.

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