Performance Audit Recommends $3.4 Million In Savings to Howland Local School District
Columbus – The Howland Local School District (Trumbull County) could achieve annual savings of slightly more than $3.4 million through staff reductions and other measures recommended in a performance audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Adopting the recommendations would allow the district to avoid a $3.4 million deficit in 2022, which is the final year of the current five-year forecast.
“Howland’s expenditures exceed those of its peer school districts in several categories,” Auditor Yost said. “While reductions are never pain-free, the district has the opportunity to reduce costs yet remain on par with similarly situated school districts.”
While not all of the audit recommendations are necessary to ensure that the district remains solvent through FY 2022, it would need to achieve savings of at least $1.32 million each year to remain in the black through the forecast period.
However, the minimum savings required for solvency alone would leave the district below the recommended level of available cash on hand. To promote fiscal health, the district should carry a balance of at least 30 days of operating expenses in cash. By implementing only the minimum amount of savings needed for solvency, the district would fall below the recommended 30-day cash balance by FY 2020-21, and would eventually fall to less than one day of operating expenses in cash by FY 2021-22.
The audit recommends reducing teaching staff by the equivalent of 15.5 fulltime positions to save nearly $1.1 million. A little more than $1 million more could be saved by eliminating the equivalent of another 22 fulltime positions among counseling, library, computer, nursing, clerical, monitoring and custodial staff.
The audit also projected that reducing the district’s cost of employee health insurance to the average for other Trumbull County public-sector entities could save $1.25 million. Extending the freeze on teacher salaries by two years and renegotiating a variety of contract provisions could save a total of nearly $570,000.
The audit also found that reducing the size of the bus fleet could save $145,200 annually, and eliminating 16.8 labor hours per day in food services would reduce expenditures by $50,100. A further $27,700 could be saved by reducing temporary and overtime pay for maintenance of buildings and grounds.
If all of these recommendations were implemented, some would have overlapping effects, reducing savings by $730,500 annually, for a total annual average savings of slightly more than $3.4 million.
The audit also recommends that the district develop a capital spending plan, preventive maintenance plans for facilities and fleet, and a bus replacement plan, as well as improving reporting of bus transportation statistics to the state.
A full copy of this audit 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.