Report 97124 Summary - August 1998

Cajon Valley Union School District:

The District Needs to Improve Its Managerial Oversight and Accountability

Results in Brief

The Cajon Valley Union School District (district) is located primarily within the city of El Cajon, east of metropolitan San Diego. Governed by a five-member board of trustees (board) and administered by a superintendent and assistant superintendents and directors, the district serves approximately 19,200 students.

We reviewed the district's administrative activities and examined specific concerns raised by members of the board and the community. We found that the district failed to develop adequate procedures in some areas and did not always follow its own policies or state or county guidelines in others.

For example, the district's inventory system does not adequately track its investment in equipment and other personal property. Although it has verified the location of items totaling $12.6 million, as of July 1, 1998, the district had not accounted for 553 items, representing $414,600. The district's process of physically counting equipment and maintaining records does not adequately account for and thereby safeguard its assets. Further, adding to the vulnerability of equipment to loss or theft, the district does not ensure that contractors return keys loaned to allow off-hours access to school buildings and grounds. District staff accounted for 61 of 77 keys loaned to contractors for off-hours access only after our inquiry, but they could not account for the remaining 16 keys.

In addition, although a total of $5,200 in cash was lost due to thefts from its headquarters in 1995 and 1996, the district has not established a process for employees to report actual or suspected theft or other illegal activities.

Further, the district does not always follow its own policies or state or county guidelines for procuring goods and services. In one instance, district staff executed a contract for building inspection services and paid the contractor more than $107,000 when the board had authorized only $7,000. Also, the district does not always seek competing proposals as state law and its own policies require. In addition, it has allowed contractors to begin work prior to obtaining a written agreement with the contractor or before obtaining formal approval from the state agency that funds school projects. Furthermore, the district has not fully implemented recommendations from the San Diego County Office of Education that would improve its annual audit, daily operations, and compliance with state procurement laws.

Recommendations

To improve its administration, the district should take the following steps:

  • Immediately perform a physical inventory at all sites, write complete instructions to site staff who perform the inventories, and reconcile the results of the physical inventory to identify the appropriate location of equipment and determine whether any is missing. The district should also follow up on items reported missing during inventory and investigate the causes and remedies of lost or stolen items, or inaccurate records.

  • Ensure that all keys loaned to contractors are returned as soon as projects are completed.

  • Establish and maintain an official record of its investment in fixed assets.

  • Develop and implement the procedures necessary to execute contracts as authorized by the board and obtain board approval for any contract amendments.

  • Seek competing proposals and ensure that contractors do not begin work before contracts are approved as required by the California Public Contract Code.

  • Complete its revision of the Board Policies and Administrative Regulation Manual as recommended by independent studies.
Agency Comments

The district generally concurs with recommendations to improve their efficiency and accountability, and in some cases, has already implemented additional processes to address them. However, the district does not agree with some of the perspective and recommendations made regarding its procurement of goods or services, including professional services.


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