By: Melanie Williamson
Each year the superintendent and district treasurer work with the school board to set goals. Those goals are then reviewed throughout the year to ensure they are working towards accomplishing them. At the Wednesday, July 26, school board meeting treasurer Suzanne Wilson reviewed her goals and the progress she has made towards accomplishing them.
Her goals have included items such as making better use of technology for all finance department operations, improving communication between the finance department and other departments within the district, the school board, and the general public, and participating in professional development opportunities.
One of her goals was to (1) develop a plan with the superintendent and board to delay new levy request to 2020, and (2) decrease operating costs/increase revenue. Wilson detailed several steps that have been made towards accomplishing this goal and asserted that she believes they have been able to extend a levy request to 2021.
Some of the changes that have been implemented include utilizing SCView software to ensure departments are not going over budget at any time. Wilson explained that with this software, if a purchase request is submitted that will take the department over budget, it will not go through. Wilson will be able to see the request and contact the head of that department to discuss their options that will keep them within budget.
Wilson shared that in maintaining strict budgets; she has seen a shift in how administrators are handling their budgets. She stated they are being much more cautious in spending and protective of how the money within their budget is being used. She stated that overall; there has been a positive shift.
She also initiated processes to monitor time sheets in an effort to dramatically reduce or eliminate overtime, which she shared has also been successful. Overall, the district has cut down on the amount of overtime being used, and again she shared a shift in mentality, stating that staff is more mindful of their time now.
Wilson stated they have been able to cut expenses while maintaining quality and access to computers and copiers. This included negotiated the lease for the Apple laptops, which resulted in decreased payments by replacing fewer computers, as well as refurbishing and recycling. This also included negotiating the contract with MTBT, which resulted in all new copiers with the ability to track usage for approximately the same price as the old copiers. Wilson stated that by tracking usage of the copiers, they will be able to reduce waste by addressing issues leading to over usage.
The liability, property, and automotive policies were put out to bid, which resulted in a savings of over $8000 for next year according to Wilson. The district is also receiving funds from Medical Mutual as a result of their staff wellness program, as well as $45,000 in discounts and rebates from the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation.
Board member Mike Stark asked what the rebate money would be used for. Wilson responded that they are encouraged to use at least a portion of it towards safety measures that would continue to reduce or eliminate potential injuries, so while she couldn’t give an exact answer, she said that is what they are looking at.
The board was also updated on the results of the severance package. On Monday, April 10, the school board voted to approve the one-time offer of a severance package to eligible certified and classified employees within the district. At the time, superintendent Phil Pempin explained that while this was not a very common practice within school districts, it was widely used in the business world as a cost-saving measure.
Pempin furthered explained their decision to offer a severance package by stated that the district would save in two ways. First, as positions are vacated, the district would be able to determine if a replacement was necessary or if the school could function sufficiently without. Secondly, for the positions that required replacement, there would be a cost savings in hiring a new employee.
When the severance package was presented in April, Wilson stated that ideally two to four of the certified staff and one to two of the classified staff would accept the severance package. At the Wednesday, July 26, meeting, Wilson shared that a total of 13 employees took advantage of the severance offer. This will result on a savings of $2,160,000 over the next four years.
Both Pempin and Wilson reiterated during the meeting their goal to extend the need for a new levy as long as possible through continued cost-cutting measures as well as pursuing avenues for increased revenue. One idea Pempin proposed and asserted he wanted to look at more aggressively is marketing the district. Past financial reports have shown that the district now receives more students through open enrollment than it loses, which brings more revenue into the district.