Niles audit finds savings

NILES – Interim Superintendent Frank Danso said study, reflection and discussion will be necessary for the district as it moves forward after a recent audit.

State Auditor Dave Yost on Thursday released a performance audit of the Niles City School District identifying more than $1.3 million in potential savings. Recommendations include the elimination of nine staff positions as well as six positions in groundskeeping and custodial staff. The position cuts, if implemented, would save the district about $713,000.

The report also suggested an increase in employee health care contributions to 15 percent, which would save the district about $520,000 per year. Employees currently contribute 6.9 percent of the cost of family health insurance and 8 percent for single health insurance.

Danso said a positive thing to note in the report is the reduction of the deficit in the five-year forecast, which was brought to $112,600 from $2.5 million.

“At the same time, we had declining tax valuations and state assistance,” Danso explained. “That really stood out to me, that in these financial times that we’re all in, this was adhered to, it was looked at and it was certainly worked on. Whoever was working on this and however it was dealt with, they certainly cut the deficit … and I think it’s a very positive thing for Niles City Schools.”

Increased strategic planning, eliminating minimum staffing requirements from negotiated agreements and conforming transportation reporting to state requirements were among the non-financial recommendations included in Yost’s report.

Performance audits are conducted by the Auditor of State’s Ohio Performance Team in cases of fiscal distress of local governments, including Ohio public school districts and by request. The Niles audit was requested by the Ohio Department of Education in light of the projected deficits in the district’s five-year forecast.

“This district has worked hard to line up its expenses with its revenues,” Yost said. “Today’s report should help the district continue to do so.”