GALLIPOLIS — More than $1 million in potential savings for the Gallipolis City School District were identified in a recent performance audit by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“The district’s proactive response to its financial condition paid off,” Yost said. “These recommendations mark the trail to a sound fiscal future.”
According to Yost, the auditor’s office selected the school district for a performance audit in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education. Last July, the district requested a staffing and financial analysis from ODE due to concerns about its near-term financial stability. Based on the results of the analysis, ODE placed the district in a state of “fiscal caution” last August.
A state of “fiscal caution” is one of three levels established by ODE that alerts school districts of potential fiscal distress, and it requires school districts to submit plans to correct its fiscal situation.
Last month, GCSD submitted to ODE what it calls a “working document,” which calls for cutting four teachers, five aides, combining and not replacing classified staff, reducing extended and contracted days, and reducing 30-hour employees to 29 hours per week, among other cuts, in an effort to save $750,000. The “working document” can be changed up to June 30 if more agreeable alternatives can be reached.
According to Yost, that figure swells as GCSD could save an average of $456,500 annually by reducing insurance premiums and increasing employee contributions to a minimum of 13.3 percent. In addition, the district could save approximately $143,300 per year by reducing its energy usage to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.
Eliminating seven spare buses from the district’s fleet could save approximately $59,400 annually by avoiding maintenance, operating and insurance costs, the report states. This includes $4,000 in one-time savings from the sale of unneeded buses. Using routing software to reduce regular bus mileage by 7.9 percent could save the district another $28,500 per year.
Ohio state auditor’s also identified additional savings if the district:
- Reduces professional and technical staff by 4.5 full-time employees ($186,100);
- Reduces unnecessary phone lines ($48,400);
- Implements a fleet cycling plan ($45,500);
- Develops a purchasing process that sources items from vendors with the lowest prices ($37,600);
- Brings collective bargaining agreements (CBA) provisions in line with benchmarks ($10,100); and
- Implements state accounting software ($7,500).
GCSD Superintendent Roger Mace said Yost’s report and numbers are correct.
“These numbers are not in stone as they can fluctuate depending on the savings per line item,” he said. “We have implemented some of the items suggested before the report came out and will continue to implement other changes. We are hoping by doing the suggested reductions will make our financial budget stronger for the future.”
As for insurance premiums, Mace said the district will soon start negotiations with the Gallipolis Education Association, the union that represents teachers and staff.
The district’s October 2015 five-year forecast projects an ending fund balance deficit of $112,482 in FY 2019-20. If the district implements the recommendations within the performance audit, Yost said it is estimated the deficit projected in FY 2019-20 would become a surplus of $3.5 million.
Reach Michael Johnson at 740-446-2342, ext. 2102, or on Twitter @OhioEditorMike.