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The Windham Board of Education announced on Wednesday that the district is officially out of fiscal caution.
"It shows that the superintendent has done the things that we need to do to keep going," said Dan Burns, board president.
The district has been in fiscal caution since 2002.
Roger Hardin, assistant director of finance program services for the Ohio Department of Education, said Windham has had good financial stability from year to year, but in order to get out of fiscal caution, a district must show positive finances for the current year and forecast those improvements for the next two years.
When a district is in fiscal caution, the first stage of fiscal distress, the ODE requires the district to send it monthly financial reports and makes suggestions about how to improve the budget. The second and third stages of fiscal distress are fiscal watch and fiscal emergency.
Since Superintendent Gregg Isler was hired in 2010, he said he's had to make a lot of tough decisions. In 2011, the district reduced its operating budget by $1 million by covering duties and schedules differently. Isler said the district is still adjusting to the changes, but thinks the administration made the right decisions for the community and schools.
"You have to make reductions," Hardin said. "It's not always in the staff but with secretaries, bus drivers, increased fees and people sharing different responsibilities."
Isler said the district was also able to pull itself out of fiscal caution without implementing additional levies since the most recent renewal levy was approved about five years ago.
"It's planning from the superintendent," Burns said. "He knows the things we need to improve without hurting the schools."
According to information provided by the district, Windham spends 73 percent of its operating expenses on employee benefits and salaries. That's about 10 percent lower than the average school district, according to the American Association of School Administrators.
"In the short-term, it's been difficult," Isler said. "But, everyone believed that we did what we needed to do to get where we wanted to be in five years."
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I hope the other schools systems read this.