Prepared Notes for Board Meeting - Audit
September 20, 2010
Marc A. Schare -
First, thanks to everyone who turned out tonight and thanks to the State Audit team for participating in our discussion. I want to acknowledge the district’s treasurer’s advisory committee for their help in the early stages of the audit, specifically, in defining the scope of the audit. I admit that I was an audit-skeptic in the beginning of the project but the professionalism, integrity and thoroughness of the auditor’s team was apparent throughout the process and the results speak for themselves – meaningful, actionable information which, if implemented, would save us many times over what the audit cost.
I think we are all pretty adamant that this report will not sit on a shelf. The data will be used to guide future decisions. Obviously, we need to pay special attention to the recommendations, but I’d like to make a few additional points about what I got out of the report.
1) Staffing levels and compensation levels in the district are more or less in line with benchmarked districts. Our above average cost per pupil, therefore, would be attributed to the above average experience level of the staff. This statement, while true, is of small consolation to many Worthington taxpayers, so the policy decision that must be made is – do we manage to a benchmark of FTE’s or do we manage to a monetary benchmark.
2) There are many examples of staffing levels within each building that are inconsistent with peer averages. One such example was middle school health/physical education which the district addressed partially with middle school restructure, however, similar inconsistencies can be found with middle school art and middle school music. It is my hope that while such inconsistencies did not result in formal recommendations, the district addresses these findings in a proactive way and either determines that the staffing levels are what they are because we prioritize these subjects or the district seeks to reduce to something approaching peer group averages.
3) All 11 elementary schools and all 5 middle schools are smaller than the average of our peer group. Some of what we are seeing in the report is directly attributable to Worthington’s policy of having small neighborhood schools, however, that policy, popular as it is, comes at a price. It is my hope that we can identify the incremental costs associated with small neighborhood schools and report to the community what, if anything can be saved with a building realignment.
4) While it is important to understand peer group averages, our district needs to make decisions based on what is best for our kids, our families and our taxpayers. It is my hope that over time, if our district chooses not to implement a recommendation, it provides an explanation for the decision so our constituents understand the thinking behind it.
Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank our district’s leadership team in voluntarily engaging in this audit. We’ve long had an objective of transparent operations in this district and I think the audit is a meaningful manifestation of those goals.