State audit lauds Monroe Schools for financial turnaround

Once among Ohio’s worst school systems financially, Monroe Schools is now among the state’s most fiscally sound, according to the latest report from the Ohio auditor’s office. STAFF FILE PHOTO

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Once among Ohio’s worst school systems financially, Monroe Schools is now among the state’s most fiscally sound, according to the latest report from the Ohio auditor’s office. STAFF FILE PHOTO

A Butler County school system has gone from one of the worst financially in the state to one of the best, according to the latest report from Ohio’s auditor.

Monroe Local Schools, which in 2014 was released from state financial supervision for fixing its previous financial disarray, was cited Tuesday as having some of the best fiduciary standing among the state’s 612 public school districts.

MORE: Monroe Schools’ road out of ‘fiscal emergency’

The 2,800-student district was included in Ohio Auditor David Yost’s most recent listings for “Auditor of State Award,” which is earned by school systems — and other taxpayer-funded, local entities — for having a “clean” audit report for 2016.

It’s quite a turnaround from 2012, when unexpected budget deficits put Monroe Schools under state supervision as part of falling into “fiscal emergency,” which included the Ohio Auditor’s and Ohio Department of Education’s supervision of the school district.

At the time, the Monroe school district was among less than a dozen in Ohio to have fallen into “fiscal emergency.”

“We received a clean audit report, which means it contained no findings for recovery, material citations, material weaknesses, or significant deficiencies,” said Monroe Treasurer Holly Cahall. “I can honestly say that it is the best audit that we have ever had.”

The district was placed in fiscal emergency in May 2012 by Yost after experiencing more than a $5 million budget deficit due to non-criminal, mismanagement of funds.

MORE: Monroe Schools wins court payout in lawsuit against ex-treasurer

The district’s annual operating budget is $24 million.

In 2012 the state ordered the district to develop a financial recovery program that included borrowing funds from the state, passing a 7.5-mill tax levy in November 2012, and completing a number of items in its policies and procedures.

“Our financial recovery succeeded as the result of the passage of the 5-year emergency levy in November of 2012, and subsequent passage of a continuing substitute levy this past November,” Cahall said.

“Our students are fortunate to have a dedicated and generous community who cares about Monroe Schools, and wants to see it succeed in every way. We have continued to work hard to maintain the public trust, and the audit for 2016 is evidence,” she said.

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