Auditor Yost to Discuss Perkins Local School District Performance Audit, District Cost-Cutting
Columbus – Auditor of State Dave Yost is scheduled to visit the Perkins Local School District in Erie County today to note the progress district officials have made to head off projected operating deficits and to mark the release of a performance audit recommending $1.7 million in additional spending reductions to augment the district’s own stringent efforts.
Despite the school district’s relatively low operational costs and efforts to further reduce spending, it faces projected deficits of $876,079 in fiscal year 2019, growing to more than $6.8 million in fiscal year 2021. As a result, the district was placed in fiscal caution on June 30, 2016.
“To its credit, the Perkins Local School District operates on a leaner budget than its peers and has taken many significant steps needed to restore financial stability,” Auditor Yost said. “With their current revenues, however, more cuts will be necessary to balance the books.”
In recent years, the district has negotiated a series of pay freezes for classified and certificated employees. In February, it launched a staff-reduction plan that will eliminate the equivalent of 33.9 full-time positions. The district also has lower staffing in clerical, technical and certain teaching positions than peer districts.
On the revenue side, the district achieved a net return of $188,400 by optimizing the number of open-enrollment students accepted into the district. It also offset the cost of extracurricular sports and academic programs by initiating pay-to-participate fees for these activities, a measure that only two of six peer school districts have adopted in a more limited way.
The audit notes that the local tax effort, a measure of how much tax revenue district voters have approved for schools in relation to their ability to pay, is 4.8 percent lower than that of 10 peer Ohio school districts with similar academic and demographic characteristics.
The audit notes that since 2007, district voters have approved two renewal levies, but rejected six new levies, including five emergency levies and one for current expenses.
The district has a 6.9-mill current-expenses levy request on the May 2 ballot.
The performance audit identified a number of areas in which the district could achieve more savings, including these major items:
- Cut the equivalent of at least 6 more full-time positions, in addition to 10 already eliminated, saving $790,200; (Note: Original release stated 16 additional positions needed to be trimmed instead of 6.)
- Eliminate the general fund subsidy for extracurricular activities, which cost the district $249,300 in fiscal year 2016. This could be accomplished by further increasing pay-to-participate fees, increasing admissions and sales at extracurricular events, increasing booster club funding, reducing payment to coaches, advisors and directors, and eliminating programs;
- Close a school building to save at least $201,000.
Smaller reductions are recommended in labor contract provisions, medical and prescription drug programs, the district’s bus fleet and fuel costs.
A full copy of the 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 5,900 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.