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Performance audit released for Poland School District

March 7, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On Feb. 27, the Auditor of State's Office released the performance audit for fiscal year 2019. The audit was performed due to a projected fund balance deficit, beginning in FY19.

"At the end of 2019, we were showing a $1 million deficit," said Superintendent David Janofa.

He explained that schools districts are required to submit the five year forecast each year. That forecast, which must be submitted to the state every October and May, has to include the estimated budgets for future years and for Poland there was a number that was making it look worse than it is.

Janofa said over the five-year period, Poland schools was looking at a $1.3 million loss from a number the state said was coming. That number was to be a further cut in state funding to the tune of $270,000 per year.

"We had to put that number in our five-year forecast," Janofa said. "The state then decided to flat-line us and is not taking that amount away from the district. That fact along with attrition had helped the district end in the black, but the recommendations of the state are planned to keep all five years in the black by saving an estimated $1.6 million. That amount is expected if all the state's recommendations are made.

"We will have to make some changes, but those will be made by our own Board of Education," Janofa said.

Among the recommendations was the closing of Union and Dobbins and moving those students into McKinley and the middle school. Both elementary school buildings would be vacant, but minimal heating and utilities would have to be maintained to insure the buildings don't fall into disrepair. The state undertsnads there is only a 40 percent savings on the utilities if the schools were closed.

Janofa said closing the schools would cut the janitorial, office, administration and cafeteria staff, who would either be laid off or moved to another building depending on the contract agreement and seniority.

Other recommendations have to do with contracted items that would have to be renegotiated with the unions. The state was looking at sick leave and severance pay, which are contracted items that an actual dollar amount can't be applied to.

There are three designations the state has when a district is looking at ending futures years in the red, including Fiscal Caution, Fiscal Watch, or Fiscal Emergency. Each carries a degree to which the state expects to see a change made, but it is the final designation that the state will step in. Janofa said if it ever reached that point, the state could take over and the contracted items would be forced to comply with the state recommendations.

Is that going to happen in Poland? Probably not. The Poland Board of Education now has time to sit down and look at the recommendations and decide which route to take. They could implement one or more recommendations, could look at contracted items, or could choose a different route.

"The Board members are evaluating all this right now," Janofa said.

He said the board presently has the total control over what to do. Over the coming weeks they will look at ways to change the five-year forecast to put and keep it in the black. They will take each recommendation from the State and evaluate it and assess the financial gains that each would bring the District, keeping in mind the affects on the students as well.

The board will also be looking at holding public meetings to discuss the State Audit, what it means, and any plans to deal with it. Those dates have not yet been established.

Janofa did say attrition probably won't be a top solution this time around. He said there are not many looking at retirement at the present time.



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