Expenditure reductions, increased efficiencies, and Board of Education advocacy are responsible for a positive 2015 five-year financial forecast.
Treasurer Stephen Osborne shared his bi-annual five-year forecast update with the Dublin City Schools Board of Education on Oct. 26. When the last operating levy was approved by voters in 2012, the Board promised the funds would last three years. That promise has already been extended to four years, and Osborne is projecting an adequate 30-day cash balance through the end of June 2018. As a result, the District is not expected to ask the community for additional operating dollars in November of 2016 as was originally anticipated in 2012.
“One of the major reasons for the improved financial outlook come in the form of expenditure reductions,” Osborne said. “For example, as one of the results of our wellness program for staff, lower than anticipated insurance expenses are helping our bottom line right now.”
The District has been able to manage its funds effectively in spite of losing more than $30-million in state funding since 2006, and in spite of adding more than 2,000 students during that same time period of time. The Board of Education advocated throughout the latest biennium process to at least maintain current levels of state funding, which was largely accomplished. The District will maintain its state funding in Fiscal Year 2016, and while short in Fiscal Year 2017, legislation has been proposed that may increase our state funding for that fiscal year.
A second major factor in the five-year forecast has been the large number of staff retirements during the past two years. Through efficient and well thought out hiring practices, the District expects to realize significant savings on personnel expenses in coming years.
“As is the case with any service industry, our budget is nearly 85% personnel,” Osborne said. “With that being the case, staff related cost savings such as salaries and benefits are having a positive impact on our budget right now.”
Additionally, the benefits of the District’s adherence to private sector business concepts have begun to pay off. Dublin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Hoadley holds a Masters of Business of Operational Excellence from The Ohio State University. Dr. Hoadley is a Lean Six Sigma black belt which means he has been trained at the highest levels possible in the areas of process efficiency and lean management techniques.
Lean Six Sigma is a managerial philosophy used by many of the world’s leading private sector companies, including many located within our District. Lean Six Sigma is a data-driven problem solving methodology resulting in an improved process or outcome when deployed correctly.
Several projects have been implemented, including an examination of the District’s copier and printer contracts, numbers, and use practices. A “push-in” professional development model for teachers was developed after administrators were asked to examine the District’s professional development processes. The resulting changes helped the District realize more than $100,000 in substitute teacher costs savings last school year. Using data-driven problem solving techniques, we will be analyzing the District’s copier and printer costs, and comparing those costs to actual needs, with the goal of reducing copier and printer costs district wide.
“Efficiency of processes and continuous improvement are key components of Lean Six Sigma,” Dr. Hoadley said. “While these are private sector business concepts, they translate nicely to the public sector in many aspects of our operation.”
Dr. Hoadley emphasized that while the latest five-year forecast finds the District in solid financial shape, the quest for cost savings and more efficient processes will continue.
“We never rest on our laurels in Dublin City Schools whether our accomplishments be in the fields of cost savings or student achievement,” he said. “Every single day we are going to continue to look for ways to cut expenditures in order to provide our taxpayers with the most possible bang for their buck.”