Archived Story

Symmes Valley district gets an ‘A’ for being resourceful

Published 10:45am Thursday, June 2, 2011

When finances are tight, there are only two ways to make it better — make more or spend less. And when the first one isn’t an option, it takes some planning, scrimping and teamwork to make everything work on a lean budget.

The Symmes Valley Local School District has been recognized precisely for these kinds of efforts, ranking as one of the most efficient districts in the state of Ohio in the category of non-instructional services in a study by Ohio Education Matters.

“The Symmes Valley Local School District has shown it can deliver quality services at a lower cost than most other districts in the state,” Andrew Benson, executive director of Ohio Education Matters, said in a press release. “The taxpayers and residents of this community should be proud that its school district takes seriously the best use of resources to benefit children.”

The study, named Ohio Smart Schools, studied the state’s school systems for nine months, and pinpointed 135 districts throughout the state that spent efficiently in areas of administration, food service, transportation and building maintenance and operations.

“School districts which are not as efficient as this best-in-class district should look to it to learn how it is doing more with less,” Benson said in the press release. “By spending less in these non-instructional areas and yet still meeting minimal quality standards, Symmes Valley Local ensures that more dollars are getting into its classrooms to help support students.”

The study found Symmes Valley Local schools spent an average of $392.43 per student on school administration, while comparable districts averaged as much as $1,144.95 per student. The study calculated that if all other districts could follow suit, $1.370 billion could be saved across Ohio school districts.

“Any time you receive any type of honor you’re appreciative,” said Jeff Saunders, Symmes Valley School superintendent. “This goes back to the students and staff, because if you check out what you have to have to be on that list, it talks about finances, but there’s a list of things. You have to be in good academic standing, have good attendance from teachers and students…There are a lot of things that went in to it.

“We’re proud of our students and staff at Symmes Valley and anytime we get recognition we appreciate it,” Saunders added.

Saunders said the study looked partly at finances and partly at performance.

“From the administrative side, you have to find ways to do the best you can with the money you receive. As everyone knows that’s not a great deal of money anymore,” Saunders said.

“You have to cut corners. We are fortunate here that our staff understands the money crunch the state and schools are in, so they are willing to pitch in where they can to keep from having staff you don’t have to have, so we appreciate those things.”

Saunders added that there are areas to improve on though.

“It depends on your students, staff and financial situation you’re in,” Saunders said. “We try to look at those areas, and we have been going through the Ohio Improvement Process. We have staff looking at ways we can improve. There are always things you can improve on. Every year is different.”

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