Taylor Issues Salem City School District Performance Audit

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Columbiana County -

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

“Performance audits are a valuable tool for school systems in our state and I am pleased to be able to offer this service for Salem City School District,” said Taylor.  “The community can benefit from the recommendations made in this performance audit.  I encourage local leaders to continue working towards financial stability.”

The Salem City School District was placed in fiscal caution on September 30, 2005 and was elevated to fiscal watch on March 2, 2006.  The performance audit was conducted as a result of the fiscal watch status and was funded through the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing Student Success. 

The performance audit of Salem City School District reviewed financial systems, human resources, facilities, food service, transportation and technology.  The major savings identified in the audit pertain mostly to human resource costs.  Recommendations included:

• Eliminating the practice of paying employee retirement for certificated and classified staff which would save $373,000.
• Eliminating the practice of paying a portion of administrator’s retirement contributions for a savings of $107,000.
• Adjusting health insurance coverage which would save $200,000.
• Reducing half of the general fund vocational education spending through strategies recommended in the audit which would save more than $120,000.
• Increasing meal participation could generate additional revenues of $28,000 per year in the food service fund.  This can be achieved by periodically soliciting input from customers and stakeholders and by implementing direct certification of student eligibility for the free and reduced price lunch program.
• Implementing an efficient transportation plan by reducing the fleet by two buses, using the district’s routing software to revise routes, negotiating to reinstate a three-tiered bell schedule and striving to achieve bus usage of 80 percent which would save $33,000 annually.
• Reducing administrative staff by one position which would save approximately $97,000.  This recommendation was implemented by the district during the course of the audit.

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

• Salem is committed to informing the community about financial matters through newsletters, an annual forum, board meetings, surveys and outside speakers.
• The district’s professional development committee monitors teacher certification.  They have developed a database that identifies teachers whose certification is about to expire.
• The district has exceeded the state’s student to computer ratio goal of five students per computer.
• Salem is providing exemplary technical support with minimal resources.
• Utility spending per square foot was approximately 24 percent lower than the peer average.

Performance audits determine the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies or programs.  This is achieved by comparing the audit client to similar 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 http://www.auditor.state.oh.us/AuditSearch/Reports/2007/Salem_CSD_Performance_07-Columbiana.pdf