Audit says Ray USD operating efficiently, needs stricter oversight

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By Chase Kamp Copper Area News

The findings of an audit of Ray Unified School District, compiled in Aug. 2012 by Arizona state school auditors, show efficiencies in food services, transportation and plant operations, as well as AIMS test scores mostly in line with similar districts.

However, the audit pointed to a need for more stringent drug testing in the transportation department, increased computer network security and more oversight of school building keys.

The audit, released on Aug. 29, said many of the red flags stemmed from several incidents caused by a former employee that admitted to falsifying bus driver drug tests and selling surplus school property for personal financial gain.

The employee, who later resigned, was the sole supervisor of the school’s in-house bus driver drug test sample collection. The samples were collected by the employee at the district and were later sent off to an independent lab for examination.

Auditors found five falsified drug test samples over the last three years in which the employee changed the names on the samples or changed the list of specific drugs for which to test the sample. The employee admitted to changing only two of the samples.

The same employee was also in charge of overseeing the purchase and installation of a new energy management system. The employee obtained the old system from the vendor that was installing the new one without notifying the district.

The employee removed working parts from the old system and pocketed the money received from selling the parts online and elsewhere, totaling about $4,000.

The employee also admitted to a prior incident of removing and selling copper from district buildings that were being renovated, which came to around $3,000.

The audit also recommended greater computer security measures and more policies regulating the copying, distribution and return of school building keys.

In a letter addressed to the state auditor general, Ray Superintendent Dr. Robert Dunn explained the district’s plan to address every issue pointed out in the audit.

Dunn said a more elaborate random drug testing procedure will be implemented annually for bus drivers, including having samples opened at the district office by two individuals not from the transportation department.

Speaking with Copper Area News, Dunn said the district has already addressed nine of the 16 areas needing corrective action, with work currently being done on drafting new building key and network security policies.

The district will meet with state officials in Feb. to ensure compliance, Dunn said, but he plans to have every issue met by Christmas. “At this point, it’s certainly our plan to have everything taken care of by then,” Dunn said.

In regard to academics, the audit showed Ray USD AIMS test scores were similar to those of peer districts in the reading and math portions, with slightly lower results in writing. Ray’s graduation rate of 89 percent was found to be higher than the 80 percent peer district average and the 78 percent state average.

Ray USD spent a similar amount per student in the classroom compared to peer district, but spent an average of $895 less per pupil due to efficiencies in energy use, transportation and maintenance.

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