Seattle Public Schools lost a significant amount of money this past school year by failing to charge rent for about 9,000 hours of facility usage by outside groups.
The district also hasn’t followed up on about $103,000 in past-due fees, according to state auditors, and may not be receiving as much as it should from city parks department use of athletic fields and facilities. In addition, auditors found three cases in which school staff disguised outside activities as school-sponsored, resulting in a loss of another $45,000.
The problems were listed in the second of two state audits that cover the 2011-12 school year and, in case of the facilities rental, the 2012-13 school year. The auditors said they couldn’t quantify just how much the district lost in facilities fees, but determined the district’s rental office did not bill for 2,432 events from September through May 2013, or approximately 9,000 hours of use.
The district, auditors said, charges anywhere from $8 to $88.90 per hour, depending on the event and the sponsoring group. The renters also could have been required to pay additional fees for custodians, security and utilities. In all, that means the district could have collected anywhere from about $72,000 to more than $1 million in lost rental fees alone.
The district agreed with the auditor’s findings, saying it will better monitor past-due facility-rental invoices, increase staff training about rentals, and better document how much the city owes for its use of school fields and sports facilities.
Auditors said the district has made progress toward correcting the issues raised in the audits covering the 2010-11 school year, and solved one of them.
The latest audit report adds to problems uncovered in the first audit of the year, which looked at the district’s financial statements and federal grants. In that first audit, the state said that Seattle Public Schools may have to repay as much as $490,000 to the federal government because it did not spend some of its federal grant money appropriately — including $483,862 for dropout-prevention activities.