Public questions MiraCosta's use of state funding to pay for salary of federal grant administrat
Oceanside, CA - Public inquiries about how MiraCosta has used its nearly $3.3 million allocated to it through the state's Adult Ed Block Grant (AEBG) program has revealed another questionable practice by MiraCosta administration. Records recently produced by MIraCosta revealed a "Personnel Requisition" dated May 16, 2017 (see below image) asking for a funding source "change" so that funds received through the state Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG) could be used to reimburse another funding source for salary payments made to the grant administrator of MiraCosta's federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grant. The requisition form requested the use of the AEBG funds to reimburse another funding source (likely WIOA grant funds) for payments made to the WIOA grant administrator for the months of June 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.
Problem #1: The Five Percent Caps on Administrative Costs. Under both WIOA and the AEBG, only 5% of the public funds allocated through the grant programs may be used for administrative costs. For the 2016/17 academic year, MiraCosta received approximately $223,700 in WIOA funding to provide training and supports to help students better access the workforce. Five percent of the WIOA allocation would have equaled around $11,185, making the $71,000 salary offered for the new WIOA grant supervisor position in excess of the 5% limit (the $71,000 salary does not appear to reflect the cost of benefits).
MiraCosta also created a second position for its WIOA grant program titled "program specialist," which had a total salary and benefit cost of around $85,997 per Transparent California. Together, these two WIOA positions combined totaled over $150,000 in administration costs for the $223,700 grant.
However, despite the 5% "admin cap," MiraCosta administration approved the funding source change. Diane Dieckmeyer, VP of Instruction at MiraCosta, confirmed on December 1, 2017 at an Academic Senate meeting that the AEBG funding was used to fund the WIOA Grant Supervisor position.
Problem #2: Lack of Consortium Approval. Per both the AEBG Act and the Brown Act, expenditures of public funds are only "allowed" if they are approved via a publicly noticed meeting that offers an opportunity for public input. See, e.g. Ed Code § 84905, Gov. Code § 54954, 54954.2). However, the AEBG Consortium did not hold public Consortium meetings between April 18, 2016 and December 13, 2017, which is when the funding change was submitted and approved by MiraCosta administration. The minutes of the AEBG Consortium meetings that were held prior to April 18, 2016 and later on December 13, 2017, fail to reflect that this funding change was approved by the AEBG Consortium at any of its public meetings. See state memo titled: "Allowable Uses of AB104 Adult Education Block Grant Funds", only "expenditure decisions ... made adhering to the AB 104 legislation on public notice and public comment" constitute "allowable costs."
Problem #3: WIOA Position was not part of AEBG Implementation Plan (AB86 Plan). To constitute an "allowable cost," the expenditure "must" match the objectives and activities listed in the Consortium's 3-year grant implementation plan and "must be approved in the 3-year consortium plan and the annual plan template of the regional consortia. Otherwise they are not allowable within the year." See, page 4 of Allowable Uses of AB104 Adult Education Block Grant Funds" provided by the California Community College Chancellor's Office (memo also clarifies how AEBG funds cannot be used to supplant or replace other funds, pp. 3 - 5).
For unknown reasons, MiraCosta Administration approved the use of state AEBG funds to pay for the grant supervisor for the federally funded grant program, despite the: 5% caps of both WIOA and the AEBG, WIOA's own federal funding, the lack of approval by the Consortium, and even though funding of the WIOA position was not included in the AEBG implementation plan.
President Sunita Cooke has governed MiraCosta since 2015, which is when many of these problem arose. The public has started asking questions about what President Cooke and MiraCosta's administrators will do to restore the WIOA funding to the AEBG Consortium and to make sure the Consortium follows state laws and its implementation grant plan.
Author's Side Note: When MiraCosta hired the AEBG administrator, the compensation was far less even though the AEBG administrator was responsible for a grant of over $1 million, nearly five times the $223,000 WIOA grant. Questions remain about why the $71,000 position to administer a $223,000 grant was approved in the first place.