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Taylor Issues Performance Audit of Warrensville Heights City School District
Cuyahoga County -
Auditor of State Mary Taylor today released the performance audit of Warrensville Heights City School District. The district could potentially save more than $4.5 million annually if the audit recommendations are adopted. The audit also provides valuable management recommendations that would help the district improve its control over expenditures and program decisions.
“This performance audit is a valuable resource for Warrensville Heights City School District leaders as they make important decisions about their operations and finances,” Taylor said. “These audit recommendations will assist school officials as they work to ensure fiscal stability while continuing to provide important educational services to area children.”
The performance audit was conducted in response to the district’s financial condition and examines the district’s financial systems, human resources, facilities and transportation and food service operations.
The Auditor of State’s performance audit also provides a series of options for Warrensville Heights City School District officials to consider in order to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Some of the recommendations include:
• Reducing the number of central administrators could save $725,000.
Warrensville Heights City School District employs more administrators than similar school districts. The district should take steps to align its administrative staffing with the staffing levels of similar school districts.
• Changing the rate of employee contributions to health insurance benefit premiums through negotiations could save $669,400.
A negotiated increase in employee contributions for all staff would reduce the impact of rising health care costs on the district’s general fund.
• Reducing the number of teaching aides could save $563,000.
The district currently employs more teaching aides than similar school districts. Management should reduce the number of teaching aides while also ensuring that the proper number of aides is maintained to serve the needs of the district’s special education student population.
• Closing one district elementary school would save $314,000.
Declining enrollment has led to underutilized schools and excess space in the district’s buildings. Warrensville Heights City School District had planned to close an elementary school as part of its recent renovation project, but has not completed that portion of the plan.
• Improving internal controls over financial management, planning and purchasing.
Weak internal controls have contributed to overspending and higher-than-necessary costs for services that may not meet the needs or expectations of the district or its stakeholders. In order to ensure that the district avoids future deficits and corrects its current financial condition, administrators and the board will need to exercise diligent, long-term management control over district operations.
Additionally, the audit commends the district for taking the following steps to reduce costs prior to the release of the audit:
• The district is exploring the benefits of privately run food service operations through a pilot program.
• The district purchased a substitute-teacher calling system which is scheduled to be in operation for the 2009-2010 school year.
• The district’s human resources department has proposed reducing staff levels and conducting a job audit.
• The district staff, administration and both bargaining units agreed to a zero percent wage increase for fiscal year 2009.
A performance audit reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of government agency or program operations. This is achieved through comparing and benchmarking the agency or program to similar agencies and relevant standards. The results of a performance audit can be used to improve the effectiveness of operations, save taxpayer dollars and make better use of existing resources.
Since taking office, Taylor has released 61 performance audits outlining more than 2,200 recommendations for improvements. Those recommendations, if fully implemented, could result in potential cost savings and revenue enhancements of more than $105 million annually.
A full copy of the report is available online at www.auditor.state.oh.us.
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). Since taking office in January 2007, Taylor has identified more than $20.4 million in public funds that were spent illegally and must be repaid.