Reporting a perfect audit

We take our jobs seriously as stewards of our community’s trust and this means we count every penny.

  • Wednesday, August 25, 2021 8:00pm
  • Opinion
Matt Sullivan

Matt Sullivan

Each year, Vashon Island School District supplements its state and federal budget with tax dollars from our community.

These supplemental levy funds account for 14% of our approximately $26 million budget and ensure we are providing Vashon students with an exceptional educational experience that shapes their lives forever. Your tax dollars are critical to this mission and they must be spent within the guidelines of both state and federal laws. As such, the Vashon Island School District recently underwent an annual state audit and for the sixth audit in a row over the past eight years, in all areas evaluated, the District is reporting a clean or perfect audit to our school community.

We take our jobs seriously as stewards of our community’s trust and this means we count every penny.

The pandemic created additional challenges in managing the district finances over the last 19 months. These challenges were varied, from a plethora of accounting changes required by the state to account for COVID-related expenses, delays in funding, a declining enrollment, and even having a remote (distanced) audit.

Starting in April of 2021, members of the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) started examining school district records and worked remotely on the audit for more than eight weeks. This year was one of the largest audits the District has had and focused on two areas: (1) financial statements, looking at how the District complies with the standards of accounting and (2) the Federal Single Audit. Audit findings or problems are common for public agencies and many school districts.

A Federal and/or Single Audit is when a school district spends at least $750,000 in federal assistance or grant award dollars annually. The District is assessed on internal controls over federal programs, tests of how those controls are working and tests of compliance with federal requirements. This year the audit examined two areas: Special Education and Food Services (Child Nutrition).

The audit report, completed July 1, covered Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020. The auditors focused their attention on the areas that represented the highest risk of fraud, loss, abuse or noncompliance. As noted above, those included our financial statements (reporting) and federal awards to include: Special Education and Food Services (Child Nutrition).

As it pertains to our financial statements the auditors, “reported no deficiencies in the design or operation on internal control over financial reporting that we consider to be significant deficiencies,” the report states. As it pertains to the Federal Awards they, “reported no deficiencies in the design or operation of internal control over major federal programs that we consider to be significant deficiencies.” For the auditors, this language is high praise indeed.

Vashon Island School District strongly believes that we should always strive for a clean and perfect audit. We are committed to high levels of transparency and fully complying with both state and federal laws that govern our district. Audits of this size, scope, and time commitment are not easy on a public agency or the staff, but necessary. The total cost of this year’s audit was $23,208; copies of the audit reports are available online through the Office of the State Auditor at

Matt Sullivan is the executive director of business and operations of Vashon Island School District.

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