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Ohio Auditor’s Special Report Highlights Cost-Saving Resource Available to Public School Districts
Performance audits of school districts have produced more than $138 million in savings recommendations since 2011
Columbus – Spending is expected to exceed revenue for 93 percent (569) of Ohio’s public school districts over the next five years, according to a new report from Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office. Fortunately, more than half of these districts have carryover balances that will keep them in the black through the period.
But an analysis of May 2018 five-year financial forecasts prepared by 612 school districts shows that at least 148 are projected to finish fiscal year 2022 with deficit fund balances. That number increases to 207 districts when excluding levies that will need voter approval. Those unaudited figures are self-reported by districts to the Ohio Department of Education.
The special report released today by Auditor Yost highlights his office’s cost-saving performance audits as a way to inform decision-making and help struggling districts turn the financial tide. A performance audit is an objective, data-driven analysis of operations designed to help entities find and eliminate unnecessary spending, and improve efficiency and decision-making.
Since 2011, the Auditor’s Ohio Performance Team (OPT) has identified more than $138 million in savings for 80 school districts, most of which were in fiscal distress. Those districts yielded an average of $22.50 in savings possibilities for every $1 spent to audit.
Along with finding ways to save money, performance audits advise districts in developing long-term financial strategies. In the report, Yost explains how these strategies are necessary for districts to avoid detrimental layoffs and cuts to programming.
“It’s hard to maintain a stable learning environment when your financial health is on the decline,” Yost said. “Having a roadmap for the years ahead enables districts to make incremental adjustments as needed over time, sparing students the shock of a sudden blow caused by a logjam of unresolved financial challenges.”
OPT’s audit recommendations are born out of an analysis of a district’s operations, with attention given to how they measure up to peers, industry standards and best practices. Through these comparisons, auditors zero in on areas of disparity that might indicate an inefficient practice.
Performance auditors then project how a school district could benefit from applying a best practice. Districts are not required to follow audit recommendations. Decisions about how to eliminate financial problems remain with district leaders and residents.
The special report, “School District Performance Audits: Financial Tools for Managing the Future,” is available online.
Click here to view an interactive map showing the savings identified by performance audits of school districts since 2011.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 6,000 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.