Taylor Issues Chillicothe City School District Performance Audit

Recommendations Include More than $1 Million in Savings for the District

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ross County -

State Auditor Mary Taylor released the performance audit of Chillicothe City School District today.  The district could save more than $1 million if it implements the recommendations outlined in the audit.

“Chillicothe City School leaders are working towards a strong, secure, and predictable financial future,” said Taylor.  “I commend them for making financial accountability a priority and hope that the performance audit recommendations help them achieve both fiscal and academic success.”

The Chillicothe City School District was placed on fiscal caution on December 31, 2003.  After developing a plan to address their financial deficit, the district was released from caution on March 10, 2004.  Their current five year forecast shows a positive fund balance for FY 2007-08, but a potential deficit in coming years.

The performance audit was executed at the request of the Chillicothe City School District Superintendent and was funded through the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing Student Success. 

The audit noted that many of the District’s current practices should be commended: 

• The treasurer updates the district’s five-year financial forecast on a monthly basis.  The updated plan is then presented at School Board meetings.
• The school district exceeds the statewide average regarding core classes taught by teachers that are considered “highly qualified”. Chillicothe reports that 100 percent of its core classes are taught by “highly qualified” teachers while the statewide average is 92.5 percent.
• Compared to similar districts, insurance spending is below average while bus insurance coverage exceeds state minimum requirements.
• Bus fuel access is controlled through a key card system and usage information is gathered through computerized fuel tanks.  In addition, purchased fuel is matched up with fuel used to ensure less waste.

Performance audits determine the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies or programs through the use of benchmarking and peer comparisons to industry standards, similar entities and leading practices.  A performance audit can be a useful tool for agencies seeking to improve operations, identify cost savings and make good use of existing resources.

The performance audit of Chillicothe reviewed financial systems, human resources, facilities, transportation, and technology.  The major savings identified in the audit pertain mostly to human resource and facility costs.  Recommendations included:

• Reducing staff by 10 clerical positions, six teachers, and four library staff members could save almost $500,000
• Implementing health insurance cost containment strategies would identify more than $100,000 in savings
• Reconfiguring elementary schools to accommodate the closure of one building could save more than $250,000

Other notable cost saving strategies and operational enhancements include:

• Decreasing transportation by three buses for savings of $60,000
• Reducing dependence on overtime for maintenance staff to save $23,000
• Developing stronger policies regarding the use of sick time to reduce substitute costs by $19,000
• Implementing stronger energy management practices to save $14,000

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 http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Chillicothe_CSD_07_Performance-Ross.pdf