Performance audit recommends Howland schools cut 15.5 teaching positions


Staff report

HOWLAND

Howland School District could achieve annual savings of about $3.4 million through staff reductions and other measures recommended in a performance audit released this week by Auditor of State Dave Yost.

Adopting the recommendations would allow the district to avoid a $3.4 million deficit in 2022, which is the final year of the current five-year forecast.

The performance audit accounts for the additional $3.2 million annually to be raised by an additional levy approved by voters in May, but school officials knew they would need both additional revenue and cuts to expenses when they put the levy on the ballot early this year, Howland Treasurer Rhonda Amorganos said.

The school district asked for the performance audit in February because of concerns that the state auditor’s office might place the district in fiscal caution, Amorganos said.

While not all of the audit recommendations are necessary to ensure that the district remains solvent through 2022, it would need to achieve savings of at least $1.32 million each year to remain in the black through the forecast period, the auditors said.

The audit recommends reducing teaching staff by the equivalent of 15.5 full-time positions to save nearly $1.1 million. A little more than $1 million more could be saved by eliminating the equivalent of another 22 full-time positions among counseling, library, computer, nursing, clerical, monitoring and custodial staff.

Howland Superintendent Kevin Spicher said the number of staff members has been dropping since he became superintendent in 2015.

He said the community made it clear not long ago, however, that it would not accept even a one-grade-level reduction in art education and will not accept the “base minimum” in staffing.

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