Salem school board to utilize audit results to cut spending

The audit offered suggestions and praise for some of Salem’s programs.



SALEM — The Salem Board of Education will meet Friday morning to begin to look at ways to cut spending.

The school district could save more than $1 million a year through recommendations in a performance audit released Tuesday by the Ohio Auditor’s Office.

Emily Frazee, a deputy press secretary for Auditor Mary Taylor, said the audit is “an amazing tool” for school officials.

Regular audits check the books, but performance audits make recommendations.

Jill Rowe, the district’s treasurer, said the performance audit was a good way for the district to begin to look at ways it can save money.

The audit also praised some of Salem’s programs.

The suggestions include:

USaving $373,000 by no longer paying a portion of employee retirement contributions for teaching and nonteaching workers.

USaving $107,000 by no longer paying a portion of administrators’ retirement contributions.

UMaking adjustments in health insurance coverage to save $200,000 a year.

UUsing strategies to reduce vocational education by $120,000.

UIncreasing meal purchases to generate $28,000. That would include direct certification of students eligible for free and reduced priced lunches, as well as asking what pupils want to see on the menu.

UEliminating two bus runs, and trying to increase bus usage, to save $33,000.

Superintendent Stephen Larcomb could not be reached to comment, nor could school board President Elizabeth Thatcher.

What’s next

The document is 242 pages long. Rowe said that the district had received portions of the audit as it progressed so officials could digest the material.

It may also take time for the district to make changes. Rowe said some of the proposals would have to be renegotiated, such as the district’s paying a portion of retirement benefits for some workers.

In a June 18 letter that was included in the audit, Larcomb noted that the district had seen a draft version of the audit and was working to implement savings.

The audit also listed positives in the district, including:

UThe district is above the state’s ratio of five pupils per computer.

UUtility spending was 24 percent lower than similar districts.

UThe district does a good job of notifying the public about financial matters.

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