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Memo: More Operational Audit Follow-up Results Expected by Sept. 30

The Hamilton-Wenham Regional School Committee has set Sept. 30 as a key date for coming up with some responses to some of the recommendations from the operational audit.

Future school budgets will take into account concerns raised by the operational audit, School Committee Chairman Alexa McCloughan said in the committee’s latest response as part of the audit follow-up.

“We agree that explaining our revenues and expenditures in a clear way and continuing to search for efficiencies within our District will help garner public support for our upcoming budget,” McCloughan said in 2-1/2-page letter to the Operational Audit Committee dated July 25. The letter was made public on Tuesday.

Last year, . The audit came after a citizens petition seeking the audit garnered support from Town Meeting voters in both towns. It cost $90,000 to complete.

McCloughan’s memo was in response to a July 14 letter from the Operational Audit Committee that sought specific responses as part of the audit follow-up.

The response “fairly well addresses” the committee’s requests, according to Molly Martins, chairman of the Wenham Board of Selectmen who sits on the operational audit committee.

Earlier this year, and gave each one a priority. At that time, the School Committee also agreed to update the Boards of Selectmen from both towns and the public about its progress in addressing the audit recommendations.

“This remains our go-forward plan, and the Boards of Selectmen and our community can expect an update as to our progress in September,” McCloughan wrote.

McCloughan also said that the audit recommendations to examine the per-student special education costs and the student-to-teacher ratio at the high school are “the two key priorities.”

The School Committee is disappointed that Evergreen did not provide any specific recommendations to reduce cost while maintaining existing education standards.

“Like you, we agree that taking advantage of cost saving opportunities must be given full consideration in this year’s budget process,” McCloughan’s letter stated.

The new interim principal at for the coming year – – will be able to help with that examination, according to McCloughan.

Hughes will be able to provide “valuable insight and understanding to our analysis,” according to the School Committee’s response.

A “project plan” for both the high school student-to-teacher ratio and special education costs will be in place by Sept. 30, McCloughan’s letter said.

The same date was cited as a deadline for the School Committee to meet with The Operational Audit Committee to further discuss it’s follow-up plan for the audit.  

With the most recent response from the School Committee, Martins said on Tuesday that the general consensus of the Operational Audit Committee is that its work is complete.

The initial letter from the Operational Audit Committee and the response from the School Commmittee are both attached to this story as a PDF.

Bruce Wadleigh August 05, 2011 at 05:04 PM
It is important that the School Committee re-examine their initial responses where they indicated that NO ACTION would be taken on specific Operational Audit written recommendations. Those responses are unacceptable without a FULL explanation as to why they chose to make that response. It is also very important that each and every recommendation be worked on and completed in a timely fashion and not set aside as indicated with just work on the SPED and Student to Teacher Ratio analysis being done. It was never the responsibility of Evergreen Solutions to provide the HWRSD and School Committee detailed instructions on how to accomplish the tasks required to work on and complete any of the recommendations. I think that the OA Committee's " Charge " should be complete when all OA Audit recommendations are fully responded to and closed out to the committee's and the taxpayers satisfaction and not be disbanded at this time and turned over to any other committee or subcommittee as is currently being discussed / proposed. Cost savings as a result of the implementation of OA Recommendations needs to be estimated on an annual basis and reported so the taxpayers can determine whether we will receive a return on our investment of 90K to have the Operational Audit performed. The way I see it, each one of the OA recommendations if properly implemented should provide some type of cost savings due to improved efficiency in operating the school system. Bruce Wadleigh Hamilton
Jay Burnham August 06, 2011 at 08:23 PM
Well stated Bruce. I concur.

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