State auditor offering school districts ways to cut ‘outside-the-classroom’ spending

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Published: May. 10, 2021 at 12:21 PM CDT
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From Mississippi Office of the State Auditor

JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) – Mississippi public schools could eliminate ineffective outside-the-classroom spending to potentially redirect more than $200 million to teacher salaries and classroom expenses each year.

Those findings were contained in reports released this month by State Auditor Shad White.

White’s office recently partnered with Columbus Municipal School District; Hinds County School District; and Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District to find ways to improve their operations.

After the auditor’s office released a series of education spending reports in 2019 and 2020, representatives from the three school systems volunteered to have their operations and expenditures examined with these cutting-edge data analytics techniques.

The pilot project was conducted with the help of the advanced data analytics firm GlimpseK12 and was funded by the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor.

Across the three school districts, GlimpseK12 identified opportunities to eliminate ineffective spending that would lead to annual savings of between $7.5 million and $12.3 million.

For the project, GlimpseK12 reviewed every expenditure made over a period of time and offered data-driven recommendations to eliminate useless spending.

The spending areas with the largest opportunities for cost savings include software and digital products, maintenance, and supply chain management.

“I’m thankful for the leadership these school districts showed by volunteering to go under the microscope in the public view,” White said in a release. “I was happy to help these school districts identify ways they can prioritize their spending on teachers and the classroom.”

The three school districts serve nearly 14,000 children combined.

Together, they represent a range of municipal, county and consolidated school systems. This level of savings spread across all public school students in the state could lead to more than $200 million of eliminated outside-the-classroom waste every year.

“I attended Mississippi public schools until I graduated from college, and I’m the child of a 35-year public school teacher,” White said, “so, I’m committed to doing my part to help make our public schools the best they can be.”

Previous reports from the State Auditor’s office showed ballooning outside-the-classroom spending, a comparison of education spending in other states and priority given to administrative pay raises.

The new performance audit report can be found online at the State Auditor’s website.

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