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State audit faults administration of school meals program

A state audit released Tuesday found fault with the Department of Education for its administration of the School Meal Program, which oversees federally funded breakfast and lunch programs in Colorado schools.

Among other findings, the audit criticized the department for not spending all the federal funds available to it for administration of the program.

But the audit didn’t find any shortage in funds distributed to school districts for spending on meals. “No students were affected by this,” said CDE spokeswoman Janelle Asmus.

The audit, done by a private firm for the Office of the State Auditor, concluded CDE didn’t use $700,000 in federal funds available for administrative purposes and also didn’t apply for a $1.5 million federal grant that could have been used for administrative costs. Asmus noted that during the audit period the program was being reorganized and had several vacant positions.

But the audit, which covered 2008 to 2012, also found some CDE lapses in oversight of district meal programs. The state program “did not have an effective monitoring in process in place to ensure that school districts comply with School Meal Program requirements and that violations are corrected” in a timely way, the audit said.

Most of the auditor’s recommendations have been implemented or will be accomplished by the end of this year, according to the report.

During the 2012-13 school year, 61.6 million lunches and 24.8 million breakfasts were served in Colorado. The program spent about $175 million in that year, $171 million from federal funds.

Read the full audit here.

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