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Performance audit done for the Switzerland of Ohio School District

Updated: Wednesday, August 13 2014, 08:22 AM EDT
MONROE COUNTY, Ohio -- A newly released audit at the Switzerland of Ohio School District shows its spending exceeds its peers and could be reduced by $2 million a year.
That's according to a state report called a performance audit. It was conducted by the office of the Ohio Auditor of State at the request of Superintendent John Hall and other school leaders.
But perhaps the most important part of this audit? It came at no cost to this financially strapped district. The audit is breaking down the ways the school district's financial plan could go from red back to black.
The 5-year forecast is bleak. Although it will look better in recent months, it's still not up to par.
Auditor of State Dave Yost says the office compared the district to other like districts across the state, albeit Switzerland of Ohio is unique in that it's the largest geographical district in the state.
"Our goal is twofold: We need to provide the best education possible for our students within the parameters of our budget," Hall said. "Then secondly, any organization needs to continually look at how they use their resources better."
The report details a re-structuring of the district's health plan. Exploring other various health care options could save the district approximately $941,000 per year.
Current food costs total 53.5 percent higher than peer groups in what the auditor's office attributes to purchasing pre-packaged items instead of bulk commodities.
Making that change could save more than $180,000 a year. Although the district reduced 45 positions in the fiscal year 2012-13, school leaders could reduce one additional administrative position, four custodial positions, and six clerical positions. That would save nearly $345,000 per year.
Implementing a new sick leave policy would save close to $33,000 annually in substitute expenses. And renegotiating sick leave severance payouts to the state minimum would save approximately $151,000 a year.
Closing a couple of the least-utilized buildings in the district would save around $231,000 annually.
And other renegotiations could bring back $219,000 each year if employees paid their full retirement contributions. Finally, more than $37,000 per year could be saved if overtime calculations were made similar to district peer groups.
"The bottom is line is that if they follow the path that we've laid out, they can go from having a $6 million hole 5 years from here to actually having a $1 million surplus," Yost said.
Hall said says his focus right now is the upcoming school year. Students return to class Aug. 26.While he says he's appreciative of the report, he and other school leaders will carefully review those recommendations to determine a future direction for the district.
A copy of the full audit can be seen here:

Performance audit done for the Switzerland of Ohio School District

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