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Cambridge City Schools News Article

Cambridge Schools Find Efficiencies

It is not a secret in educational circles that public funding for public schools is not enough to provide the type and quality of education we want our children to receive. A shortage of state funding and demands for additional programs and services has financially strapped districts.

But even if levies pass and additional public funding becomes available, it is not enough. It is never enough when talking about a child’s education.

When faced with this financial dilemma Cambridge City School District whose voter base narrowly turned down their ask to approve a new levy in 2018, found efficiencies that helped put the district on stable financial footing.  Many of those efficiencies stem from the decision to restructure the elementary schools in the district.

The district, led by Superintendent Dan Coffman, Treasurer Ed Wright and Business Manager Dave Caldwell, as well as a supportive board of education, have identified many ways to cut costs without cutting services, in fact, they have increased and improved services for less money.

“It is paramount that we are good stewards of the public dollars we receive from the state and are generated from local taxes,” Superintendent Coffman said. “The administration has worked hard to identify areas of cost savings. Areas where we can be more efficient as a district. It is important that we can reduce costs without reducing the educational product we deliver to the students. I think we have done a fairly good job.”

While the sale of underused and inefficient buildings reduced costs, the restructuring of the school district also served as a catalyst to re-evaluate vendor contracts and find additional savings.

“We were able to revisit and consolidate some vendor contracts which over time start to add up in expense reductions,” Caldwell pointed out. “There is nothing exciting or spectacular.”

The district’s trash removal, for example. After the restructuring of the district, Caldwell and Wright reviewed the contract and reduced the number of days trash was picked up. Shifting from a schedule when trash was picked up everyday to a schedule where trash is picked up two or three days per week instead saved the district $20,000 per year.

Following the sale of unneeded property, Cambridge Schools used a portion of the generated funds to purchase new buses.
“When I first stepped into this position (in 2010), the average age of our buses was 15 years old,” Transportation Supervisor Dan Daugherty said referencing the industry standard of 10 years. “This administration has been unbelievable in upgrading our fleet. Right now, a majority of our buses are less than five years old.”

While the cost of purchasing new buses can seem daunting, the transportation budget is in much better shape than five years ago too, partly because there is less time and money spent on repairing buses and buying new parts. In fact, the bus garage employs only one mechanic as opposed to two mechanics they employed for several years.

“The new bus fleet is why,” Daugherty said. “We don’t have as many repairs and especially a lot less body work. Before we upgraded our fleet, body work was a huge part of keeping the buses road worthy and safe. They were so old; they were just rusting out.”

Another savings being realized due to the decision to re-align the elementary buildings is the savings in fuel consumption and wear and tear on the buses. From a transportation standpoint, the realignment led to big savings.

The district expects to see additional fuel savings when the new transportation facility is completed next to the main school campus where approximately 75 percent of the students attend school.

Other found efficiencies include replacing all lights in the district with cost-effective and friendlier LED lights. The replacement project was completed by the district maintenance staff with the help of summer workers which also saved money. The district also partnered with Guernsey-Muskingum Electric Co-op to receive a significant rebate on the purchase of the bulbs, sensors, and wiring.
These types of efforts have saved the district more than $50,000 annually in the cost of utilities.

Wright and Caldwell also reviewed and then consolidated the vendor contracts for copiers and printers. The district saves $10,000 annually by utilizing the same vendor for all buildings and by leasing new equipment eliminating maintenance costs on older machines.

“Those little things don’t sound like a lot,” Caldwell said. “But I think if you pay attention to the little things, they often turn into big things.”
Cambridge City School District wants to provide the best education possible to the students in the district. While more money does not always equal better education, it certainly helps provide the tools and resources that can be utilized by educators to deliver a better educational product.

“We’ve been able to add programs back, like consumer sciences, industrial arts, and choir, and we have also been able to bring in new programs like our STEM classes at the High School, Middle School and Intermediate School,” Coffman pointed out. “We would not have been able to do all of these things without the help of Ed and Dave. They’ve found resources and efficiencies that have benefited the district.”

Note: This is the fourth in a five-part series about the financial situation of Cambridge City School District.


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