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Rossford board OKs audit to seek ways to save

Rossford Schools will have a performance audit done by the Ohio state auditor in an effort to find ways to save money.

The board of education agreed to the audit last week after hearing a presentation by Derek Merrin, a performance analyst for the auditor's office. Mr. Merrin said the purpose of a performance audit was to find savings for local governments and school districts. Recommendations could be ignored or implemented any way the school board liked.

For school districts, such an audit usually focuses on these areas: finances, human resources, facilities, and transportation, Mr. Merrin said. But he emphasized that the audits are tailored to each district and can cover fewer areas.

A performance audit takes six to nine months and costs an average of about $65,000, Mr. Merrin said. The highest return usually was in human resources, he said.

The board also authorized the district's master plan steering committee to send out two sets of requests for qualifications, one to specialists in assessing the condition of the district's buildings and another to specialists in determining facilities needs.

A planning and design firm would determine the needs of the district, and architects and engineers would assess the condition of the buildings.

In 2010, voters overwhelmingly rejected a $50 million proposal to build new middle and high schools, but the steering committee continues its efforts to upgrade buildings. Some Rossford schools, including the high school, date to the 1920s. The newest building, Indian Hills Elementary, was constructed in 1970.

The steering committee would like to put a new tax request on the ballot in 2013.

John Appt, chairman of the steering committee, said a survey would be sent to Rossford households next month to solicit public input.

It would attempt to discern what the taxpayers would prefer.

"Do they want new buildings or renovated ones?" he said. "A central campus or neighborhood schools?"

Mr. Appt said that after the requests for qualifications were returned, he expected firms to be selected by mid-August.

-- Carl Ryan

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