Audit recommends adjustments to open enrollment at Austintown schools


COLUMBUS

The Austintown Local School District could save more than $766,000 by modifying its open enrollment practices, according to a performance audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost. The audit identified over $1.4 million in potential savings.

In fiscal year 2015, the district’s 686 open enrollment students made up 13.6 percent of its total student population, bringing in $4,022,682 in revenue. Compared to resident students, the district generated $1,419 more in state revenue from each open enrollment student. However, the costs associated with teaching open enrollment students totaled $4,048,334, resulting in a $25,652 net loss.

“Districts with large amounts of open enrollment students rarely get positive financial results without continuous fine-tuning,” Auditor Yost said. “If put into practice, these recommendations can help Austintown Schools boost efficiency and save a substantial amount of tax dollars.”

Auditors found that a resident student of Austintown generated an average of $8,404 in state and local revenue, after accounting for debt payments. On the other hand, an open enrollment student generated an average of $5,867 in state revenue only (local tax dollars do not follow the student out of the home district). When resident student and open enrollment student revenues are combined, the average revenue decreased to $8,147 per student. Consequently, resident student revenue was diluted by $257, or 3.1 percent.

The district could save more than $766,286 per year by reducing open enrollment and realigning staffing to accommodate fewer students. To accomplish this, the district could increase its total student to general education teacher ratio to 25:1 for grades K-2, allowing it to admit 125 open enrollment students without increasing general education teacher expenditures. The resulting savings could go toward reducing debt payments, investing in capital and educating students.

Among the other findings in the report, auditors recommended the district take steps ensure the accuracy of its financial forecast and long-term financial planning. The audit determined that the district’s May 2016 five-year financial forecast was an unrealistic depiction of its financial condition based on the assumptions and available supporting documentation. As a result, auditors conducted a detailed review and made adjustments.

A full copy of this performance audit is available online.

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