West Clermont works with auditor, saves $3 million

By Art Hunter

West Clermont Local School District officials recently concluded nearly a year spent working with a team of auditors from Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office.

The auditor’s office was conducting a performance audit in the district.

“The exercise in going through that process was very helpful to use in identifying additional places where we could reduce expenditures,” district superintendent Dr. Keith Kline said.

Before the performance audit was released, the district has already made approximately $3 million in cuts to its budget.

“West Clermont is my new poster child for performance audits,” Yost said. “The school officials’ proactive approach has already saved taxpayers millions and put the district back on track toward fiscal stability.”

The audit identified a total of $4,192,500 in potential savings based on the district’s fiscal year 2012-2013 operations.

Some of the audit recommendations implemented by the district included the negotiating of employee payments of 16 percent on health and dental premiums, eliminating four bus routes, reducing custodial staff, and reducing general education teachers and special education monitors. The district also implemented a freeze on employee salaries during the 2013-14 school year.

“The performance audit was very helpful for us as we try to find ways to tighten our belts,” Kline said. “I feel very positive about the results.”

But Kline also says that there are many things that have been eliminated at West Clermont that should be revisited.

He said that the elementary students do not have art, music, or physical education classes. The district does not have all-day kindergarten, and thousands of students are not provided transportation.

“We’ve been trying to reduce costs as far away from students as possible,” Kline said. “But at some point we will have to make a decision in the district about what a quality education looks like, and then fund that appropriately.”