For Our Children's Future

A Performance Review of the Lewisburg Area School District

A Casey School District Performance Review Report

Robert P. Casey, Jr., Auditor General

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

 


 

Dr. William J. Torok
Superintendent
Lewisburg Area School District
208 South Fourth Street
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 17837

Dear Dr. Torok:

Thank you for participating in this Casey School District Performance Review. What follows is our report, For Our Children's Future: A Performance Review of the Lewisburg Area School District. By volunteering for this review, you, the administration and the Board of Directors of the district have demonstrated that you are committed to making the Lewisburg Area School District even better.

As you know, working families and other taxpayers in the Commonwealth who struggle every day to make ends meet expect public school districts to use tax dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible. They also want the maximum amount of their hard-earned tax dollars to reach the classroom for teaching and learning. For Our Children's Future: A Performance Review of the Lewisburg Area School District will help your district meet these expectations. This report identifies ways the district can reallocate funds to the classroom so that students will learn more now and earn more in the 21st century.

Some recommendations in this performance review suggest ways to significantly improve district operations at no cost. Others call for some investment in much-needed improvements. In sum, full implementation of these recommendations could save the Lewisburg Area School District more than $1.9 million over the next three years.

I am also pleased to report that the Department of the Auditor General review team singled out some district practices to commend. These strengths are identified in this report so that they may serve as examples to other school districts in Pennsylvania.

I am grateful for the willingness of the Lewisburg Area School District to work with the Department of the Auditor General on this unique effort for our children. The recommendations outlined in this report will have a meaningful impact on their future.

  Sincerely,
 
 
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Auditor General

 


A Casey School District Performance Review Report

For Our Children's Future:

A Performance Review of the Lewisburg Area School District


Contents


 

Introduction

The Casey School District Performance Reviews
Lewisburg Area School District

Casey School District Performance Review Methodology - Steps to Results

Step 1: Scope Design - Targeting Processes for Improvement
Step 2: Fieldwork - Research and Evaluation
Step 3: Developing and Quantifying Recommendations - Planning for Our Children's Future
Step 4: Recommendation Presentation and District Response - A Call to Action
Lewisburg Area School District Strengths Music Program
Technology
Budget Calendar and Site Based Budgeting
Hiring Policies
School Board By-Laws
Observations and Recommendations - A Strategic Blueprint for Moving
More Tax Dollars Into The Classroom
Chapter 1: Facilities Maintenance
Chapter 2: Food Service
Chapter 3: Strategic Planning

Conclusion

Appendices

Appendix A:  Individuals Interviewed
Appendix B:  Documents Reviewed
Appendix C:  In$ite Reports

 

Introduction

The Casey School District Performance Reviews

Working families in Pennsylvania are struggling to make ends meet. They and other taxpayers want the maximum amount of their school tax dollars to reach the classroom for teaching and learning so that children will learn more now and earn more in the 21st century.

However, in many school districts across the nation, only a little over half of the total budget is actually spent in the classroom. School districts must provide a broad range of services beyond face-to-face teaching, including teacher and student support services, facility operation, transportation and both building-level and district-wide leadership.

These non-instructional services are a vital part of creating and sustaining a successful educational environment. However, at a time when expectations are rising faster than revenues, it is critical that school districts focus their resources on their core mission: the teaching and learning of children.

The Casey School District Performance Reviews are designed to help districts in Pennsylvania respond to this challenge. Initiated by Auditor General Robert P. Casey, Jr. in September 1997, this groundbreaking program marks the first time in Pennsylvania that school districts have volunteered to work with the Department of the Auditor General to identify ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The savings identified by these reviews can then be reallocated to the classroom for teaching and learning.

Because each school district knows best what its needs are, these reviews do not make specific recommendations about how to reallocate the savings. In some districts, there may be a need for more teachers to help reduce class size; in others, there may be a greater need for updated textbooks, more computers, or better supplies. Auditor General Casey has talked with many teachers throughout the Commonwealth who have spent hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars of their own money on basic school supplies like reading kits and workbooks. Each district is encouraged to reallocate its savings to the areas which will have the greatest impact on teaching and learning.

The Casey School District Performance Review philosophy is based on three key premises:

Management processes and practices link directly to school districts' core mission of teaching and learning. Management's effectiveness and efficiency affects the availability of instructional time and materials, the condition of the instructional facilities, and the cost-effectiveness of support services.

Some recommendations in this report will cost nothing to implement, but will have an enormous impact on communication, morale, and the ability to monitor effectiveness and efficiency. Others will require some investment, but will have important future benefits. All recommendations identify concrete opportunities to reallocate resources from non-instructional services into the classroom.

Auditor General Casey invited all 501 Pennsylvania school districts to participate in the Casey School District Performance Reviews. To date, the Department of the Auditor General has completed thirteen such reviews, identifying over $26 million in potential savings.

 

Lewisburg Area School District

The Lewisburg Area School District is located in Union County 65 miles north of Harrisburg and encompasses an area of 43 square miles with a population of 16,981 and serves Lewisburg Borough and East Buffalo, Kelly and Union Townships. The district operates two elementary schools. One school serves grades kindergarten through three and the other elementary school serves grades four and five. In addition, the district operates one middle school serving grades six through eight and one high school serving grades nine through twelve. For the 1998-99 school year, the Lewisburg School District served 1,890 students.

We commend the board and the staff of the Lewisburg Area School District and the community for their dedication to improving educational opportunities for the children within their district and for volunteering to participate in this review. We believe that the recommendations contained in this report not only have value for the Lewisburg Area School District, but also for other Pennsylvania school districts facing similar management and performance challenges. Accordingly, we encourage other stakeholders to review this report for innovations that can be similarly implemented in their operations.

 

Casey School District Performance Review Methodology - Steps to Results

 

STEP 1: Scope Design - Targeting Processes for Improvement

Process Overview

The goal of the Casey School District Performance Reviews is to provide each participating district with a set of meaningful recommendations that will lead to improved district operations and increased resources for teaching and learning. These reviews are different from audits completed by the Department of the Auditor General's Bureau of School Audits, which primarily determine (1) if a district received the state subsidies and reimbursements to which it was entitled; and (2) if the district complied with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, the forum used to develop the areas selected for review is unique to this initiative.

Scope design is a collaborative effort between the school district management team and the Department of the Auditor General review team. The district's management team is comprised of the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and the Director of Administrative Services. The Casey School District Performance Review Team consists of four specially trained professionals who are supervised by the Deputy Auditor General for Performance Audits and the Department's Director of the Bureau of Performance Audits. Each group meets separately to identify a short list of issues and concerns before meeting together to reach consensus on the scope of the performance review. Each team organizes its priorities into familiar school district process areas, such as transportation or facility management, because concerns are easily voiced along these lines. Typically, the scope consists of three or four major process areas targeted for in-depth analysis.

 

District Assessment

Assessment of school districts is a three-pronged approach comprising input from (1) school district management, (2) the Department of the Auditor General performance review team, and (3) the community.

School district management, headed by the superintendent, reviews a sample list of school district processes and identifies its top priority areas based on the district leadership's firsthand experiences and knowledge of school district operations.

At the same time, the department's performance review team tours the school district, makes general inquiries, and identifies possible process areas for review using In$ite™ - The Finance Analysis Model for Education™. The In$ite™ software is an analytical tool which is owned by Fox River Learning, Inc. and was brought to market by Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P. In$ite™ was specifically developed for use in school districts and uses the district's general ledger data to produce consistent and comparable expenditure reports organized by expenditure function, educational program, and individual building location. (See Appendix C for In$ite™ reports.)

Because Auditor General Casey values the input of taxpayers as well as district employees, the review team incorporated community input when finalizing the scope design. To that end, approximately 2,000 survey forms were sent to the parents of district students. Their comments regarding the issues affecting the district were considered by the review team when determining the scope areas to be reviewed.

Lewisburg Area School District Scope Design Meeting

A scope design meeting was held to merge the process areas targeted by the Lewisburg Area School District and the questions raised by the review team. Consensus was reached on the following scope for the Lewisburg Area School District performance review:

 

Facilities Maintenance - The review included an analysis of different aspects of the district's facilities maintenance program to determine if maintenance contracts were cost-effective. It also included a review of overtime usage, work order systems, preventative maintenance programs, materials and supplies purchasing, and staff usage.

 

Food Service - The review analyzed the district's food service operation to determine if quality food services were provided cost-effectively. Specifically, the team looked at staff effectiveness, operating efficiency, budgeting, pricing, and participation in the National School Lunch Program.

 

Strategic Planning - The review studied areas associated with long term planning and evaluation. This included the purchase and use of real estate, the effectiveness of contracted services, and the cost/benefit of employee benefit programs.

See Appendix D for a copy of the agreement signed at the Scope Design Meeting, by the Superintendent of the Lewisburg Area School District, its School Board President, and the Casey School District Performance Review Team Leader.

 

STEP 2: Fieldwork - Research and Evaluation

The process areas identified in the Lewisburg Area School District scope design process served as a framework for the review team's fieldwork. The Department of the Auditor General's review team spent approximately twelve weeks exploring the concerns and issues raised regarding each process area contained in the scope.

The review team interviewed 41 district officials to understand each process from a number of different perspectives. Team members talked to board members, administrators, professional and clerical staff, teachers, maintenance staff and custodial staff. (See Appendix A for a complete list of the individuals interviewed.)

In addition, review team members examined a number of documents and consulted data sources to verify information received during interviews and to conduct independent evaluations. Specifically, review team members:

 

STEP 3: Developing and Quantifying Recommendations - 
Planning for Our Children's Future

As previously noted, the process areas identified in the scope design served as a framework for the review team's fieldwork. The review team then analyzed the data and developed recommendations for improvement. These recommendations are organized into distinct chapters that identify how the district can plan for our children's future by finding savings and reallocating the savings to the classroom for teaching and learning.

Within each chapter, the review team estimated the savings and/or investment associated with each recommendation over a 3-year period. The assumptions on which these calculations are based are included in the explanation that follows each table.

These chapters are found in the Observations and Recommendations section of this report.

Also, the review team identified and assessed five school Best Practices which are found in the Lewisburg Area School District Strengths section of this report.

 

STEP 4: Recommendation Presentation and District
Response
- A Call to Action

Auditor General Casey issues this report to the district's management and school board to communicate the department's observations and recommendations. These recommendations, which included suggestions for investments and the expected savings, will help the Lewisburg Area School District focus on enhancing its operations to provide additional resources for teaching and learning in the classroom.

At the conclusion of the Casey School District Performance Review, the school district's management will be given the opportunity to provide a written response to the Department of the Auditor General. In its response, the district is requested to comment on each recommendation, indicating its intentions with respect to implementing each recommendation. Management's comments are presented in this report immediately after each recommendation.

Implementation of recommendations by the school district is voluntary. Parties interested in the status of a specific recommendation's implementation should contact the school district directly.

 

Lewisburg Area School District Strengths

During the performance review, we found that school officials have implemented some unique programs that expanded student educational opportunities while reducing operational costs. This section describes an overview of these achievements.

 

Music Program

The district provides a wider variety of music programs and learning opportunities at the high school level than in similar school districts. Students can participate in concert, marching and jazz band; string ensemble; and concert and chamber choir. These groups have received "excellent" and "superior" ratings for the bands, choirs, and orchestra in competitions during the past eight years. The program consistently receives commendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Education, local educators, community leaders, and parents. In addition, individual students have been invited to join district, regional, all-state, and all-east music groups, and to audition for the Susquehanna Valley Band and choral groups.

Students have also participated in several prestigious invitation-only presentations, including a 1992 Washington, D.C. performance to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Discovery of America, and a presentation by the concert choir and concert orchestra at the American University's Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in 1992. In 1993, students were invited to perform at the White House and at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

The success of the high school music program is attributed, in part, to a strong music foundation received in the lower grades. Classes are designed to be all-inclusive and explore music in a comprehensive, interesting, and hands-on style. The lower grade music program is available to every student, regardless of ability. The students are actively involved in learning about music and are exposed to a wide variety of musical styles and methods. In addition, elementary school students have music three times per six-day cycle.

Several organizations unique to the school district provide additional exposure to music:

The music and arts program was also recently commended by an assessment team comprised of area teachers, administrators, and Bucknell University professors in their 1998 Blue Ribbon Report. The report said that the "school demonstrates a commitment to the arts and humanities through professional instruction and partnerships with the local arts community." In addition, the school sets high standards for excellence in the arts, and corresponding assessments are used to improve instruction. The success of the program can also be attributed to the support of the district administrators, school board members, parents, and community members.

 

Technology

The district understands the importance of incorporating technology into the current learning environment and equipping students with the technical skills necessary to remain competitive. The staff of the two elementary schools, middle and high schools has developed comprehensive technology plans for improving existing educational programs. Additionally, the Lewisburg Area School Board implemented a five-year replacement cycle for computer equipment.

All district school buildings are connected to a computer network and all classes have Internet access. The libraries in each school are computerized and connected to the Internet. Each school maintains numerous computer labs and students in grades two through twelve and faculty have e-mail availability.

 

Budget Calendar and Site-Based Budgeting

The district uses a Budget Calendar that corresponds with the district's fiscal year, July 1 through June 30. This monthly calendar provides the School Board with a vital planning tool. The Board knows what to expect at the monthly meetings; therefore, planning is easier and the operation is more efficient. The Board is presented a three year personnel plan and a five year overall budget plan indicating function objectives based on projected enrollment at each school. Budgeting is discussed for approximately a six-month period. A draft copy of the budget is presented to the Board in April and the official budget is adopted in June.

Lewisburg Area School District utilizes an effective method of budgeting known a "Site-Based Budgeting." Funds are allocated by school building, based on a formula that includes school enrollment and building need. The district's superintendent believes this method of budgeting has resulted in tighter controls, and therefore savings to the district. For example, during the 1994-1995 school year the superintendent and board cut the district's overall budget by $150,000, which they attributed to "Site-Based Budgeting."

Each school principal is provided with an individual school budget. The principals then consult staff and work out the areas in which the monies are needed most. It is each individual school's responsibility to live within this budget. If there is a surplus at the end of the year, the Superintendent approves if and how the money will be spent. If one of the school principals needs additional money, the change is taken to the school board for approval.

Some of the characteristics that make Site-Based Budgeting unique is that it avoids 'micro-managing,' allows flexibility and assigns accountability. The individual school principals are responsible for using funds where they are needed most and prevent unnecessary spending.

 

Hiring Policies

The Lewisburg Area School District's hiring policies exceed standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education by requiring all teaching candidates to have at least a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA); diagnostic and student evaluation skills; the ability to apply subject discipline to other curriculum areas; technological literacy in the areas of word processing, the internet and graphics; and the ability to adjust their teaching styles to student learning styles. These standards ensure that successful teacher candidates have the necessary educational skills and training to meet the expectations established by the Lewisburg Area School District. These additional standards help ensure that teachers hired are some of the best and brightest universities and colleges have to offer. The National School Board Association recognized the district for its hiring policies at the association's annual Convention and Excellence Fair.

 

School Board By-Laws

In November of 1997 the Board of Directors of the Lewisburg Area School District established rules and regulations to more effectively govern the Board and provide for the safe and orderly operation of the School District.

Ten elements make up the by-laws. They include the following: Introduction, Names and Classifications, Authority and Powers, Functions (Legislative and Executive), Memberships (Composition, Qualifications, Elections, Vacancies, Term, Attendance, Removal, Expenses, Orientation, and Conferences), Organization (Officers), Meetings (Parliamentary Procedures), By-laws and Policies (Formulation and Adoption, Implementation, Policy Manual and Review), Board Records (Records Custodian, Public Inspection, Exempted Records, Directors Review and Retention) and Code of Ethics.

The district believes that the by-laws allow the Board of Directors to more efficiently govern the Lewisburg Area School District.

 

Observations and Recommendations -
A Strategic Blueprint for Getting More Tax Dollars
into the Classroom

 

This Casey School District Performance Review generated 10 recommendations to address concerns the review team identified in the three process areas agreed to at the scope design meeting. These recommendations are organized into separated chapters to help the district develop a strategic blueprint for getting more tax dollars into the classroom.

Each chapter consists of one or more components. These components highlight specific recommendation groupings. This structure presents the recommendations and the resulting savings and/or investments in understandable sections so the district may respond by:

The tables contained in this section of the report outline the specific recommendations supporting each of the chapters, their major components and their link to the teaching and learning of children. A three-year breakdown of respective savings and investments is included.

Throughout the report investments are expressed in parentheses.

 

Chapter 1: Facilities Maintenance

Component 1.1 Maintenance Operations

Review Observations

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1998, Lewisburg paid three contracted vendors $62,410 for miscellaneous HVAC maintenance services. These services included servicing, inspecting and repairing air conditioning units, heaters, refrigerators and coolers. The district's maintenance supervisor estimated that two-thirds of these contracted services could be eliminated if designated maintenance personnel received appropriate certification and training.

 

For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1998, the district paid custodial personnel $37,397 for 2,271 hours of overtime or an average overtime rate of $16.47 per hour. The district maintenance supervisor stated that the majority of overtime is attributed to community events that use school facilities.

Additionally, $13,792 of those overtime dollars were paid for Saturday and Sunday (weekend) work. Approximately 97 percent of this overtime was routinely scheduled for extracurricular events, building inspections and general cleaning. Only 3 percent of the overtime was related to emergency situations.

 

The district leases and staffs a warehouse to store and deliver school supplies. According to the lease agreement, the district pays $467 per month for the warehouse. Additionally, the district has assigned two employees to the warehouse. Each of these employees spends approximately 50 percent of their time performing tasks related to warehouse duties.

A tour of district buildings and interviews with school management indicated that there is adequate space available to store these school supplies at the individual schools.

 

Proper training is essential to meet the challenges of complicated mechanical systems. Using district personnel to provide preventative maintenance and respond to normal operational needs would help ensure proper maintenance at a lower cost to the district. The need for extensive outside vendor HVAC services would be eliminated. The present vendor could be retained on an as-needed basis for extensive technical work.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$41,607

($1,500)

 

2

$41,607

($1,500)

 

3

$41,607

($1,500)

 

Total

$124,821

($4,500)

Note:

The annual estimated savings are based on eliminating two-thirds of vendor services that would be performed by in-house staff. The investment is an estimate of the training costs for district personnel.

Management's Response

The district stated that staff will be trained to do HVAC servicing.

Hire part-time employees to perform routinely scheduled weekend custodial work. These employees would cover the scheduled overtime more efficiently.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$36,283

($11,896)

 

2

$36,283

($11,896)

 

3

$36,283

($11,896)

 

Total

$108,849

($35,688)

Note:

The annual savings were calculated by taking 97 percent of the actual overtime hours or 2,203 hours (2,271 X 97 percent) for the 1997-98 fiscal year at the average overtime rate of $16.47. The investments were calculated by taking those same hours times the rate paid to temporary substitute custodians.

Management's Response

In response, the district stated that overtime expenditures will be decreased by providing better weekend coverage.

 

District management should discontinue the leasing of warehouse space, reassign district personnel to other functions and store school supplies in the individual school buildings.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$5,600

$0

 

2

$5,600

$0

 

3

$5,600

$0

 

Total

$16,800

$0

Note:

The annual savings consist of the elimination of the annual lease payments of $5,600. Additional savings could be generated by reassigning district personnel, but it is not possible to quantify this savings.

Management's Response

School district management stated that warehouse leasing will be eliminated through the building of district storage. District personnel will be better utilized.

 

Component 1.2 Utility Costs

Review Observations

Three of the district's four school buildings and the administrative building are heated with natural gas. The district purchases this fuel directly from a natural gas supplier. For the period July 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998, the district spent $60,680 for natural gas. The purchasing agent for the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit reviewed the district's natural gas invoices and indicated the district would realize a substantial savings by purchasing natural gas from the intermediate unit's supplier.

Natural gas is one of the five major U.S. industries that has been deregulated since 1977. With deregulation, consumers are not limited to one supplier but have the ability to solicit prices from a number of suppliers.

 

The district has used the same long distance carrier for the past several years. For the period July 1, 1997 through June 30, 1998, the district spent $11,668 for 64,270 minutes of long distance phone services. Therefore, the average rate per long distance minute during this time period was $.1815 per minute. Other telephone service providers were contacted and offered to provide the district telephone service for $.085 per minute. The current provider agreed to match the reduced rate.

 

Recommendations

Lewisburg Area School District should participate in the natural gas consortium established by the intermediate unit. Purchasing in bulk allows the intermediate unit to negotiate with natural gas suppliers to obtain the best available price.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$3,627

($1,333)

 

2

$4,078

($1,333)

 

3

$4,078

($1,333)

 

Total

$11,783

($3,999)

Note:

The projected savings are based on information received from the intermediate unit's purchasing agent. The investments represent payment for equipment that will be required with the change in providers. Payments are allowed to be spread over a 3-year period, interest free.

Management's Response

Natural gas will be bulk-purchased.

With numerous long distance telephone service providers and a variety of options available, the district should continue to seek the best long distance telephone rates possible.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$6,200

$0

 

2

$6,200

$0

 

3

$6,200

$0

 

Total

$18,600

$0

Note:

The savings are calculated by taking the difference between the current and previous long distance telephone rate per minute (.1815 - .085 = .0965) applied to the 64,270 long distance service minutes used during the 1997-98 fiscal year. It is assumed that the new long distance telephone rate and total minutes of service will remain constant during each year.

Management's Response

The district stated that long distance telephone rates will be negotiated.

 

Chapter 1: Summary of Fiscal Impact

Component 1.1 Maintenance Operations

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Train the maintenance staff to service district HVAC equipment.

Provides maintenance services in a more economical manner.

 

$124,821

 

($4,500)

 

$120,321

         

Hire additional staff to provide weekend custodial coverage.

Reduces the cost of overtime.

 

$108,849

 

($35,688)

 

$73,161

         

Eliminate the use of warehouse space for school supplies.

Reduces the cost of storage space.

 

$16,800

 

$0

 

$16,800

 

Total Component 1.1

$250,470

($40,188)

$210,282

Component 1.2 Utility Costs

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Purchase natural gas through the intermediate unit.

Reduces the cost of natural gas used by the district.

 

$11,783

 

($3,999)

 

$7,784

         

Negotiate rates for long distance telephone services.

Reduces the cost of long distance telephone charges.

 

$18,600

 

$0

 

$18,600

 

Total Component 1.2

$30,383

($3,999)

$26,384

 

Total Chapter 1

$280,853

($44,187)

$236,666

 

The table below presents a breakdown of the 3-year net savings (investment) for Chapter 1.

 

Net Savings (Investment)

Planning Chapter 1

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Total

         

Component 1.1 Maintenance Operations

$70,094

$70,094

$70,094

$210,282

Component 1.2 Utility Costs

$8,494

$8,945

$8,945

$26,384

Total Chapter 1

$78,588

$79,039

$79,039

$236,666

 

Chapter 2: Food Service

Component 2.1 Food Service Delivery

Review Observation

The Lewisburg Area School District does not participate in the National School Lunch (NSL) program at the high school, and as a result loses the benefits of federal and state funding. According to district administrators, the district's decision not to participate in the program for the 1997-1998 school year resulted in lost revenues of $29,167. School administrators decided to drop out of the program in the 1995-1996 school year because students had requested several unallowable menu items, including carbonated drinks and deep-fried foods.

Participation in the NSL program requires schools to meet the specifications of a Type A lunch, which requires that three of five food groups be served daily. These groups include bread or other grain products, vegetables, fruit, meat, and milk. In addition to losing federal funding, the school receives less government commodities as a result of not participating in the NSL. The estimated value of the commodities that the school did not receive during the same 1997-1998 fiscal year was $12,940.

 

Recommendation

According to the Food Service Director, the district could provide a Type A lunch as required by the National School Lunch program, and still offer students the a la carte style food service desired. This can be accomplished by designating one lunch line as Type A menu items only, and providing a la carte service for other food items unallowable under the NSL program.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$42,107

$0

 

2

$42,107

$0

 

3

$42,107

$0

 

Total

$126,321

$0

Note:

The annual savings represent $29,167 in federal and state funding and $12,940 in donated commodities the district would be eligible to receive by participating in the National School Lunch program.

 

Management's Response

The district's management stated that it will participate in the National School Lunch Program.

 

Component 2.2 Food Service Staffing

Review Observation

Lewisburg Area School District has generally used cafeteria staff to prepare meals in each of the district's four school buildings. In addition, in each of the buildings two lines are used with four servers (two for each line), and two cashiers (one for each line). Based on a survey of eight of the surrounding school districts compiled by Lewisburg's Director of Administrative Services and presented in November of 1998, the district's cafeteria staffing levels are above average.

Additionally, the survey noted that during the 1997-1998 fiscal year, it took the district's staff an average of seven minutes to serve each meal. The other school districts surveyed averaged five minutes per meal. Therefore, the district is approximately 30 percent less efficient in the time it takes to prepare and serve meals when compared to those other districts.

The food service director indicated that a major reason for the inefficiency is scheduled meal times are not staggered or delayed with short intervals. For example, in one school building approximately 150 students are served lunch each school day. However, there could be as many as 50 to 75 students being served at one time, causing long lines. The food service director explained that this is why the district uses two lines with two servers and two cashiers.

 

Recommendation

District officials should stagger the times that students are sent to the cafeteria for lunch. Staggering would allow the cafeteria to operate with one line with two servers and one cashier. The staff of 21 employees now works an average of 90.50 hours per day or 4.3 hours per employee. If the time to prepare meals was reduced by 30 percent to come in line with the surveyed districts, Lewisburg would only need 15 equivalent employees.

 

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$0

$0

 

2

$0

$0

 

3

$0

$0

 

Total

$0

$0

Note:

It is not possible to estimate how much the district will save since we recommend that positions be phased out through attrition. When vacant positions are eliminated (or left unfilled), savings in excess of $30,000 per year could be achieved.

Management's Response

The staggered lunch proposal will be implemented where it is feasible.

 

Component 2.3 Purchasing Procedures

Review Observation

Lewisburg Area School District does not purchase products such as paper, napkins, forks, knives and spoons through the Pennsylvania Education Joint Purchasing Council (PEJPC). The PEJPC is a buying service for the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. Fourteen of twenty items sampled could have been purchased less expensively through the purchasing consortium.

 

Recommendation

The Lewisburg Area School District should purchase cafeteria paper products and small wares through the Pennsylvania Education Joint Purchasing Council when less expensive than other suppliers.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$1,015

$0

 

2

$1,015

$0

 

3

$1,015

$0

 

Total

$3,045

$0

Note:

The savings were calculated by taking the price differential for the fourteen less expensive items and multiplying that difference by their estimated annual quantity needed.

Management's Response

Cafeteria supplies will be purchased through the Joint Purchasing Council.

 

Chapter 2: Summary of Fiscal Impact

Component 2.1 Food Service Delivery

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Participate in the National School Lunch program at the high school.

Provides additional revenue to the district.

 

$126,321

 

$0

 

$126,321

 

Total Component 2.1

$126,321

$0

$126,321

Component 2.2 Food Service Staffing

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Stagger lunches and phase out six excess positions through attrition.

Reduces the cost of food service delivery while improving services to students.

 

 

$0

 

 

$0

 

 

$0

 

Total Component 2.2

$0

$0

$0

Component 2.3 Purchasing Procedures

     

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Purchase cafeteria supplies through the Pennsylvania Education Joint Purchasing Council.

Reduces food service supply costs.

 

 

$3,045

 

 

$0

 

 

$3,045

 

Total Component 2.3

$3,045

$0

$3,045

 

Total Chapter 2

$129,366

$0

$129,366

 

The table below presents a breakdown of the 3-year net savings (investment) for Chapter 2.

 

Net Savings (Investment)

Planning Chapter 2

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Total

         

Component 2.1 Food Service Delivery

$42,107

$42,107

$42,107

$126,321

Component 2.2 Food Service Staffing

$0

$0

$0

$0

Component 2.3 Purchasing Procedures

$1,015

$1,015

$1,015

$3,045

Total Chapter 2

$43,122

$43,122

$43,122

$129,366

 

Chapter 3: Strategic Planning

Component 3.1 Employee Benefits

Review Observation

The district provides health care insurance coverage for all full-time employees even though these employees may be able to obtain coverage from another source. The district does not provide employees with an option to take cash payments in lieu of paid health insurance benefits when coverage is provided elsewhere.

We found that 202 district employees were married and received health care coverage from the district. In many cases, both husband and wife receive employer paid health care coverage. The duel coverage costs the district on average $4,665 per full-time employee. By offering Lewisburg Area School District employees a cash payment in lieu of health benefits, the district would reduce its health insurance costs. Employees who are covered by their spouse's health insurance and do not need another plan would receive cash in place of a benefit.

 

Recommendation

The district should offer employees the option to take a cash payment in lieu of receiving benefits. To ensure that the district's employees who elect to receive benefits under these new provisions are not taxed, the district needs to file the appropriate documentation with the Internal Revenue Service.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$233,250

($50,000)

 

2

$240,248

($50,000)

 

3

$247,455

($50,000)

 

Total

$720,953

($150,000)

Note:

The savings in the first year are calculated by estimating that 25 percent or 50 of the married employees have spouses receiving similar coverage and would elect to receive a payment in lieu of benefits (50 employees X $4,665 = $233,250). The investments are calculated based on a payment in lieu of benefits of $1,000 per employee. The subsequent year savings are calculated assuming a 3 percent annual increase in health care costs.

Management's Response

District management stated that the optional health care plan is something that can be addressed during collective bargaining.

 

Component 3.2 Real Estate Holdings

Review Observation

The district owns 213.5 acres of land, adjacent to the Kelly Elementary School. This land was purchased on December 31, 1997 with the intention of building a new high school. However, since the land was purchased, the school board renovated the existing high school and abandoned plans to build a new school. As of July 1997, this land had a market value of approximately $918,000.

Currently, the district is leasing this property as farmland.

 

Recommendation

The School Board and district administration should determine if the acreage could be utilized for the benefit of the district and community. If no alternative uses can be determined, the district should sell the property.

Fiscal Impact:

Year

Savings

(Investment)

 

1

$941,228

$0

 

2

$23,228

$0

 

3

$23,228

$0

 

Total

$987,684

$0

Note:

The calculated savings in the first year are based on the estimated market value of the property, less the revenue realized from leasing the property. Additional revenues could be generated if the property was converted into tax revenue generating property. The savings in second and third years are based on the estimated property tax revenues less the lease revenue.

Management's Response

The district is reviewing the use and purpose of the unused Newman property.

 

Chapter 3: Summary of Fiscal Impact

Component 3.1 Employee Benefits

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Implement a payment in lieu of benefits option for employees who receive health care insurance coverage from other sources.

Reduces the cost of health insurance.

 

 

 

$720,953

 

 

 

($150,000)

 

 

 

$570,953

 

Total Component 3.1

$720,953

($150,000)

$570,953

Component 3.2 Real Estate Holdings

Recommendations

Positive
Fiscal Impact

 

Savings

 

(Investment)

Net
Savings
(Investment)

         

Evaluate the benefit of retaining ownership of excess property.

Provides additional revenue by eliminating excess real estate.

 

$987,684

 

$0

 

$987,684

 

Total Component 3.2

$987,684

$0

$987,684

 

Total Chapter 3

$1,708,637

($150,000)

$1,558,637

 

The table below presents a breakdown of the 3-year net savings (investment) for Chapter 3.

 

Net Savings (Investment)

Planning Chapter 3

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Total

         

Component 3.1 Employee Benefits

$183,250

$190,248

$197,455

$570,953

Component 3.2 Real Estate Holdings

$941,228

$23,228

$23,228

$987,684

Total Chapter 3

$1,124,478

$213,476

$220,683

$1,558,637

 

Conclusion

The Lewisburg Area School District said its mission is to be "a public school system committed to the educational needs of our students. Our school will provide our students with the foundation for life-long learning. Students will have appropriate opportunities to acquire knowledge and to develop the skills, attitudes, and values to become responsible citizens who are prepared to meet the current and future challenges of living in a global community."

This Casey School District Performance Review focuses on the reallocation of existing district resources and the generation of new non-tax revenue to augment the teaching and learning of schoolchildren in the Lewisburg area. For Our Children's Future: A Performance Review of the Lewisburg Area School District presents specific recommendations on how the school district can improve its operations in support of its core mission.

The cumulative 3-year breakdown of anticipated savings resulting from our review (net of investment) is estimated at $1,924,669 and is summarized by chapter in the table below.

Summary of Savings and Investments
(Investments are expressed in parentheses.)
 

Chapter 1 - Facilities Maintenance

$236,666

Chapter 2 - Food Service

$129,366

Chapter 3 - Strategic Planning

$1,558,637

Total Savings

$1,924,669

At a time when expectations are rising faster than revenues, it is critical that the school district focuses its resources on its core mission: the teaching and learning of children. The dollars identified in this report should be reallocated to the classrooms of the Lewisburg Area School District in a manner that district officials feel best meets the needs of its students.

The cumulative 3-year estimate assumes the full implementation of recommendations as presented in the report. Actual savings realized, however, will fluctuate based upon recommendations accepted, implementation methodology, timing of implementation, and other unidentified cost savings or investment not anticipated in the analysis.

The Lewisburg Area School District recognizes the need to continually review programs and update technology to prepare the district's students for the future. The implementation of the recommendations presented in this report will assist the district's efforts to review, develop and implement programs to help students learn more now and earn more in the 21st century.

 

Appendices

Appendix A: Individuals Interviewed

1. Dr. William J. Torok Superintendent
 
2. Dr. Patsy J. Marra Assistant Superintendent
 
3. Ronald G. Kabonick Director of Administration Services/Board Secretary
 
4. Vickie A. Bingaman Supervisor of Food Services
 
5. David P. Wagner Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds
 
6. Joseph Smith School Board Director
 
7. Donald Fox School Board Director
 
8. Michael O'Keefe School Board Director
 
9. Mary Brouse School Board Director
 
10. Larry Confer School Board Director
 
11. Greg Krohn School Board Director
 
12. Donald Stechschulte School Board Director
 
13. Nancy Steckel School Board Director
 
14. Mark DiRocco Secondary Principal Lewisburg High School and Middle School
 
15. Donald J. Baumgarter House Principal, Lewisburg High School
 
16. Floyd Waters House Principal, Middle School
 
17. Donna John Principal, Kelly Elementary School
 
18. David E. Heberling Principal, Linntown Elementary
 
19. Donald Bowman School Psychologist
 
20. Alice Justice Counselor
 
21. Tom Fantasky Technology Coordinator
 
22. Valerie Mike Faculty Member
 
23. Ted Barbour Faculty Member
 
24. Jon Clark Faculty Member
 
25. Thomas Wheeler Faculty Member
 
26. Michele Stover Faculty Member
 
27. Frank Corbin Faculty Member
 
28. Andrea Kratzer Faculty Member
 
29. Elizabeth Yoder Faculty Member
 
30. David Jennings Faculty Member
 
31. Ann Lawrence Faculty Member
 
32. Judy Blee Faculty Member
 
33. John Le Teer Faculty Member
 
34. Lisa Folker Faculty Member
 
35. Christopher Ulrich Faculty Member
 
36. Diana Antolick Faculty Member
 
37. Joan Mertz Payroll Clerk
 
38. Karen Mills Related Arts Committee Representative
 
39. Dawn Bertinet Related Arts Committee Representative
 
40. Pam Parker Related Arts Committee Representative
 
41. Suzanne Stackhouse Librarian

 

Appendix B: Documents Reviewed

Facilities Maintenance

1. Building Floor Plans
 
2. Maintenance Department Job Descriptions
 
3. Policies & Procedures Manual
 
4. Organization Chart
 
5. Monthly Building Condition Report
 
6. Asset Appraisal Report
 
7. Vendor Invoices
 
8. Detail Expenditure Reports
 
9. Report of Overtime Hours
 
10. Overtime Adjustment Schedules
 
11. Custodial and Maintenance Work Schedules
 
12. Payroll Hours and Adjustment Listings
 
13. Employee Listing
 
14. Support Staff Handbook
 
15. General Ledger Transaction Listings
 
16. Vendor Paid-to-Date Listings
 
17. Custodial Staffing Formula
 
18. Student Enrollment Listing
 
19. Lewisburg Area School District Official Budget for the 1998-99 fiscal year

 

Food Service

1. Cafeteria Staff Policies and Procedures Handbook for 1998
 
2. 1998-1999 Food Service Bid Awards Sheet
 
3. Monthly Claim for Reimbursement Form for School Lunches August and September 1997
 
4. Daily production records for September 1998
 
5. Food Service Employee Job Descriptions 1998
 
6. Food Service Report 1998
 
7. List of Employees for Food Service

 

Strategic Planning

1. Real Estate Appraisal and Marketing Associates. Report
 
2. Appraisal Report by Thomas F. O'Byrne CAS of the Neuman Estate Farm
 
3. Agreement to Sell Contract between the Estate Executor and the LASD
 
4. Executors Deed for sale of Neuman property to the LASD
 
5. Stewart Title Guaranty Co. Policy of the Neuman Estate and the LASD
 
6. Mid Penn Engineering Survey Report of the Neuman Estate for the LASD
 
7. Lease Agreement with Gary Walter for the Neuman propery and the LASD
 
8. School Board Minutes Regarding the Purchase of Land
 
9. Lewisburg School District Budget for the Fiscal Year 1998-99
 
10. List of Gifts, Grants, and Donations Received by the District
 
11. Mellon Bank Private Assessment Form of the Neuman property
 
12. Contract Memorandum (Relating to early retirement incentive for 1998-99 school year)

 

Miscellaneous

1. Lewisburg Area School Board By-Laws
 
2. Lewisburg Area School Board Policy for Hiring Professional Staff
 
3. 1998 Blue Ribbon Assessment Report
 
4. Technology Consultant Contract with EDUNET Corp.
5. Software Contract with EDUNET Corp.
 
6. District Technology Plan
 
7. Administrative Organization Chart
 
8. Staff Directory
 
9. Payroll Register for 1997-98
 
10. 1997-98 General Ledger Detailed Account Listing
 
11. Independent Auditors Report (1996-97, 1997-98)
 
12. Lewisburg's Administrative Manual
 
13. Long Range Plan
 
14. District Strategic Plan
 
15. Lewisburg School Board Minutes (1997-98 fiscal year)
 
16. Board Refinancing Documents
 
17. Bank Statements
 
18. Insurance Benefit Cost Reports for 1997-98
 
19. Floor Plans for the High School, Middle School, Kelly Elementary, and Lynntown Elementary
 
20. Department of Education - Statistical Reports
 
21. News Articles applicable to the Lewisburg Area School District

Appendix C: In$iteT Reports

In$iteT provides 270 reports which detail how the district spends money. These reports cover all functional and programmatic costs and are compiled by grade level, by the schools as a group, or by individual building.

The following selected reports for the 1997-98 school year are examples of the reports used in the performance review of the Lewisburg Area School District:

  • District Expenditures by Program

  • District Expenditures by Education Level

  • Total District - Functions

  • Total District - Sub-Functions

  • Total District - Detail Functions

  • Total District - Education Level - Summary - $

  • District - Special Education

  • District - General Education

  • District - Special Education Subprograms - $

  • District - General Education Subprograms - $

  • District - Elementary School

  • District - Middle School

  • District - High School

  • District - Non-School

  • All Schools - Detail Functions

  • All Schools - Program Summary $

  • All Elementary Schools -Detail Functions