State auditor puts Niles schools under fiscal watch

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Auditor's Office had placed Niles City School District in fiscal watch after its board of education failed to put forth a financial recovery plan.

The Ohio Department of Education placed the district in a less severe state of fiscal caution on Sept. 26, 2017, to address its mounting deficit. A five-year financial forecast filed by the district in May anticipates a $7.4 million deficit in fiscal year 2021.

The district’s Board of Education was given 60 days to provide ODE with a financial recovery plan detailing its strategy to erase the deficit. But the board instead passed a resolution on April 19 declaring its inability to devise a recovery plan.

“The district can’t beat this deepening deficit alone,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “I urge the district’s board of education to make full use of the state resources at its disposal to avert the impending financial crisis.”

Under fiscal watch, the district has another 60 days to submit a recovery plan to ODE. From that point, the education department has 30 days to either approve or make changes to the plan. The Auditor of State’s Local Government Services Section (LGS) is available to assist the district with its planning.

The district previously spent more than 13 years in fiscal watch before it temporarily emerged from fiscal distress in June 2016.

Auditor Yost released a performance audit in April containing recommendations that could save the district $3.4 million annually.

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