(Columbus) -- Madison-Plains Local School District could save nearly $1.8 million and eliminate a projected 2022 deficit of $7.4 million by adopting the recommendations of a performance audit released today by Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Recommendations for the Madison County school district include reducing staff, trimming the bus fleet, reducing the subsidy for extracurricular activities, and lowering the employer premium for dental and vision insurance.
“Preventing deficits is never easy or painless,” Auditor Yost said. “District leaders and residents will have to set priorities and make the tough choices needed to preserve the financial balance of the district.”
The largest savings - a little more than $1 million - could come from the reduction of the equivalent of 17 staff positions, including administrators, teachers, clerical, bookkeeping, and other professional and support positions, the audit found.
Reducing the subsidy of extracurricular activities to the level of peer school districts could save another $180,200, according to the audit.
Other recommendations with the largest financial impacts included:
· Maximize use of the Permanent Improvement Fund to free $63,400 in the General Fund.
· Reduce the cost of the employer premium for dental and vision coverage to the county average to save $47,900.
· Develop an energy management plan that reduces energy costs to the levels of peer districts to save $35,400.
· Eliminate three spare buses to reduce expenses by $32,300 while generating $5,200 from the sale of the buses.
Even if these recommendations were fully implemented, the district still would face a shortfall of nearly $405,000, so the audit recommends that the district consider some combination of these additional cost-saving measures:
· Reduce teaching staff by another 6.5 fulltime positions.
· Adopt an across-the-board 8 percent reduction in staffing.
· Adopt a freeze on base and step pay increases for three years.
· Eliminate the entire General Fund subsidy of extracurricular activities.
The audit highlighted three noteworthy accomplishments by the district.
The first lauds the district’s transparency with financial and administrative information, which it provides via the school district website, social media and newsletters, as well as advisory committee meetings held throughout the district.
The second applauds the district’s 10-year financial plan, which helps guide decision-making and which is available on the district website and periodically is outlined at school board meetings.
The third notes that the district contracted for groundskeeping and snow removal for $41,912, and was able to eliminate two maintenance positions through attrition. This contract is $62,789 less than it would cost to hire two entry-level maintenance employees to perform this work.
Auditors also noted an issue for further study, suggesting that the district consider selling equipment it has deemed underused or inoperable to generate one-time revenue.
A full copy of this audit is available online.