School leaders must be held accountable

While Brookfield Local Schools will likely take a quick trip through state fiscal oversight, voters in the district should remember that it was their money, not due diligence by the board of education, that is doing the trick.

Ohio Auditor Dave Yost placed Brookfield in fiscal emergency on May 14 because the school system ran a deficit more than 10 percent of the previous year’s revenue. The district was previously in fiscal caution beginning Dec. 22, 2005, and fiscal watch, beginning May 2, 2006.

According to the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, during fiscal watch there was ”no progress in the development of an acceptable recovery plan and the financial conditions worsened.” According to the commission, ”the district failed to submit an acceptable fiscal caution recovery plan.”

The state loaned Brookfield more than $1 million.

Taxpayers came to the rescue when they approved a 4.85-mill levy in May. That should mean a quick loan repayment and financial recovery. Nonetheless, Brookfield residents should find the commission report disturbing.

They should also note that in addition to their tax increase, Brookfield will receive about $89,000 per year from a statewide casino tax, $329,137 extra in state support in 2014 and $410,325 extra in state support in 2015.

It’s also important to point out that Brookfield did take action this year to improve its financial situation. The district did not replace many employees who retired or found jobs elsewhere and it cut purchases.

The commission’s report indicates that Yost’s office is in the process of reviewing a performance audit conducted for Brookfield in 2004. The findings will be released soon. Brookfield residents should hold their school leaders accountable for any parts of the performance audit that have not been carried out.