Taylor Issues Southern Local School District Performance Audit

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Perry County -

State Auditor Mary Taylor recently released the performance audit of Southern Local School District.  Southern Local School District was identified as a potential model for small districts experiencing financial trouble because it has been able to remain financially stable despite declining fund balances.  The district could save more than $500,000 if it implements the recommendations outlined in the audit.

“Performance audits are designed to allow a school district to evaluate their programs and operations and compare them to similarly situated schools in the state,” said Taylor.  “I encourage parents, teachers and school administrators to review the recommendations offered in this performance audit when making decisions to improve operations and efficiencies and cut costs.”

The performance audit was conducted as part of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing Student Success.  Southern Local School District has experienced declining fund balances and is projecting a general fund deficit of $36,000 for fiscal year 2009 and 2010.  However, the district has made changes to operations to remain financially stable. 

The performance audit of Southern Local School District reviewed strategic management, financial systems, human resources, facilities, food service, transportation and technology.  During the audit, it was noted that Southern Local School District follows several leading practices in planning, performance measurement and strategic management.  Although these practices have not been highly formalized, they ensure that Southern Local maintains high levels of efficiency in several areas.  The audit noted the following as commendable practices:

• Southern Local School District spends 16.9 percent less than other similar schools to clean and maintain its facilities because of its campus style lay out.
• The district spends 23.5 percent less than similar schools to maintain and repair its bus fleet due to the experience of the transportation supervisor who also serves as head mechanic.
• The technology department recruits student interns to assist the staff with technology support.  By utilizing student talent, the district saves money on support needs and students gain valuable experience.

The major savings identified in the audit relate mostly to human resource costs.  Recommendations included:

• Increasing the amount employees must pay for health insurance coverage would save $152,900.
• Reducing special education staff by two full time employees would save $111,700.
• Adjusting health insurance benefits for part time employees to reflect the amount of time they are on the job would save $110, 600.
• Removing two busses from the bus fleet would save $163,700.
• Joining the Ohio Department of Administrative Services program for fuel purchasing would save $6,200.

Performance audits report on the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies or programs.  This is achieved by comparing programs and operations of the audit client to similarly situated entities. A performance audit can be used to help agencies improve operations, save taxpayer dollars and make good use of existing resources.

The Ohio Auditor of State’s Office is one of the largest accounting offices in the nation.  The office strives to ensure that all public funds are spent legally and appropriately and works aggressively to root out fraud, waste and abuse in public spending. Taylor encourages anyone suspecting fraud or misspending of public dollars to contact her office toll free at 1-866-FRAUD-OH (1-866-372-8364).

A full copy of the report is available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.