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Performance Audit Recommends $1.58 Million in Savings to St. Marys City School District
Columbus – The St. Marys City School District (Auglaize County) could achieve annual savings of slightly more than $1.58 million through staff reductions and other measures recommended in a performance audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
The performance audit was prompted by the district’s October 2017 five-year financial forecast, which projected a deficit of nearly $1.8 million in 2020, growing to nearly $7 million in 2022. Subsequent reductions in staff and other expenditures reduced the projected 2020 deficit to a little more than $713,000, growing to almost $6.37 million by 2022.
The deficits are expected to result from negotiated salary increases and inflationary growth of various expenses while valuations have remained relatively flat.
The aim of the performance audit recommendations is to eliminate deficits in the five-year forecast period. While the adoption of the performance audit recommendations would accomplish this, the district would have a projected carryover balance of just $96 at the end of the forecast period in 2022.
“In the face of budget challenges, the district’s leaders already have taken steps to reduce expenses,” Auditor Yost said. “This performance audit offers the district additional ways to save money and ensure fiscal health for the near future. Several of the recommendations also would help the district better manage its long-term financial situation.”
The audit recommends reducing staff by the equivalent of 8.5 fulltime positions to save $620,000 annually. This includes 5.5 teachers, a central office position, a music teacher, half of a social worker position and half of a nursing position. These reductions would put the district on par with staffing in peer school districts.
The audit estimated that reducing the district’s cost of employee health insurance to the regional average for public-sector entities and increasing the employee contribution could save $216,000 annually.
The audit also recommended:
- Adopting an energy management plan to reduce electricity costs by $63,600 annually.
- Reducing the employer cost of dental and vision insurance to the regional average for public entities to save $60,700 a year.
- Shifting future General Fund capital outlays to the Permanent Improvement Fund, freeing $48,100 annually.
- Designing a purchasing process to buy custodial supplies at the lowest cost to save $7,500 annually.
Implementing all of these recommendations still would leave the district short by an annual average of almost $581,000. To address this, the audit offers four options that could be combined in various ways to address the remaining shortfall:
- Eliminate an additional eight teaching positions.
- Make a 6 percent across-the-board staff reduction.
- Add two years to the current freeze on base salaries and step increases.
- Eliminate the General Fund subsidy for extracurricular activities.
To improve district management, the audit recommended the adoption of long-term strategic, capital and financial plans, as well as a preventive maintenance plan for district facilities.
A full copy of this report is available online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.