Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Williamsburg schools under watch

State auditor to help officials reduce costs, lessen $788,000 deficit

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WILLIAMSBURG — Williamsburg Local School District has an operating deficit of $788,000 and has been placed under fiscal watch, State Auditor Jim Petro said Monday.

        The deficit, forecast for the fiscal year ending June 30, represents 12.6 percent of the district's 1999-2000 general fund operating revenue.

        “Williamsburg schools must stabilize finances before it slips deeper into crisis,” Mr. Petro said.

        He said he would begin a performance audit to help school officials reduce costs without sacrificing the quality of education.

        The superintendent and school board were in a meeting Monday night and couldn't be reached for comment.

        The district has been in turmoil since December, when it discovered that $700,000 was built into the budget twice — the result of an apparent miscommunication between the district and Clermont County Auditor's Office.

        The district must submit an initial plan within 60 days to the state superintendent of instruction.

        If it cannot develop an acceptable plan within 120 days, a declaration of fiscal emergency will occur.

        Under fiscal emergency, the district's finances are overseen by a commission of local and state officials.

        This development comes as the district is struggling to move out of academic watch, one of four designations listed on state report cards that measure a district's effectiveness.

        The district also will be searching for a new superintendent. Robin Wiley resigned effective July 31.

        Mrs. Wiley and Jan Abrams Humphries, school board president, both have said the resignation is unrelated to the financial crisis.


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