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Published: Saturday, 11/17/2012

Toledo Public Schools board weighs performance audit after big levy defeat

BY NOLAN ROSENKRANS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With another levy defeat just a week behind them, Toledo Public Schools officials took their first step Friday in dealing with the aftermath by considering a potential performance audit of the school system.

Voters rejected a new 4.9-mill, 10-year levy that would have generated $13.3 million annually. There are no plans for immediate cuts because of the levy failure, but future deficits could force significant budget reductions.

District leaders said in the wake of the defeat that they would consider another levy campaign next year, plan for future cuts, and consider a performance audit.

Members of the board of education finance committee will forward to the full board options for a performance audit. Levy opponents frequently questioned why TPS hadn’t asked for an audit, which could reveal cost savings and efficiencies.

The district has not had a performance audit since 1998.

Though district officials had discussed a possible audit during the levy campaign, Friday’s meeting was the first time real options were discussed.

The two board of education finance committee members — Cecelia Adams and Bob Vasquez — didn’t formally endorse that the full board request an audit, but said Friday they would bring before the board options for a potential audit.

The finance committee considered audits by either the state auditor’s office or the Council of the Great City Schools, a coalition of 67 large urban school districts.

Both options would take at least several months to complete and wouldn’t be cheap: the auditor’s office, for instance, probably would charge at least $100,000.

Ms. Adams and Mr. Vasquez leaned toward the council option, in large part, they said, because it has personnel who are experts in the fields they would audit, such as school transportation or human resources.

The council also does peer reviews with cities across the country that are part of the council.

“They'll be looking at it not just from the dollars-and-cents standpoint,” Ms. Adams said, “but also from the quality standpoint.”

Matt Cleland, TPS treasurer, said he plans to place an item about the possibility of a performance audit on the agenda of the Nov. 27 board meeting.

Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: nrosenkrans@theblade.com or 419-724-6086.



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