After seven years, Gilbert Public Schools has clean audit

Jackie Mattinen
Gilbert Public Schools Finance Director Jackie Mattinen reviews the district's audit for the governing board. (Screen capture from YouTube)

Gilbert Public Schools Finance Director Jackie Mattinen reviews the district's audit for the governing board. (Screen capture from YouTube)

The annual audit of Gilbert Public Schools’ finances for fiscal year 2019-20 came back “clean,” or unmodified, the first such audit the district has received without any findings against it in seven years, officials said.

Finance Director Jackie Mattinen presented the information April 27 to the district’s governing board, which praised the years-long work the finance team had done to dig out from previous findings of material weaknesses or significant deficiencies that started before the current team arrived at the district.

“It’s heartening to hear we have reached a point where our head is above water, way above water,” Board President Charles Santa Cruz said.

Mattinen also told the board that classroom spending made up 74.5% of the district’s spending, according to the state auditor general report. That includes 61.6% on instruction, 9.2% on student support and 3.7% on instruction support.

The percentages and dollars going into the classroom are the largest they have been since 2015, Mattinen said.

In addition, when compared with neighboring districts Chandler USD, Higley USD, Mesa Public Schools, Queen Creek USD and Scottsdale USD, GPS has the second highest percentage on instruction behind Higley and the highest percentage spent in the classroom. Its percentage spent on administration, 8.2%, is the second lowest among those districts behind Mesa, according to Mattinen’s presentation.

Other items

  • The board unanimously approved a clarification and confirmation that its March 30 approval of the reduction in force of 152 certified staff members for next school year also represented an approval of the rubric that was used to identify the employees laid off. Santa Cruz said some people had questioned whether the board approved the rubric and whether it was in line with district policy.

  • The board unanimously approved an amendment to its graduation policy that allows members of Native American tribes to wear traditional tribal regalia or items of cultural significance at graduation ceremonies, including eagle feathers or plumes. The action aligns the policy with new state law, Superintendent Shane McCord said.

  • The district anticipates it will receive up to $20 million in the third round of federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funding, Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz said during the monthly financial report. However, Betz said the district will not know its allocation for sure until late May.

By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.