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Thinking Out Loud: Posting #1...An Update of the HWRSD Operational Audit

THINKING OUT LOUD is a new Blog that will regularly provide commentary on issues deemed important to the residents of Hamilton & Wenham. Comments are welcomed and appreciated, both pro and con.

THINKING OUT LOUD…

...is the name of this brand new Patch Blog.  It has been created to serve as a resource for information deemed particularly important to the residents of Hamilton and Wenham.  In many cases, this blog will pick up and go beyond current headline stories…with comprehensive discussion of the issues in order to provide better understanding and clarity.

THINKING OUT LOUD welcomes comments, both supportive and contrary to the viewpoint of the articles posted here.

Welcome!  And with that, let the dialogue begin…

Over a year ago, Enough Is Enough (EiE) wrote an open letter to then school superintendent Peter Gray expressing the group’s disappointment with progress toward implementation of the 125 fiscal recommendations of the Operational Audit. (OA) 

http://hamilton-wenham.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-little-has-been-accomplished-on-operational-audit-of-school

Most of you will recall that the OA was overwhelmingly supported and funded by the taxpayers of our two towns.

Since that time we have hired a new superintendent and several members of the School Committee have been replaced.  EiE has met with new Superintendent Harvey and several members of the School Committee.  At each of these meetings assurances have been made that the OA has not been forgotten and that the recommendations made in that report will continue to be reviewed.

That’s all well and fine, and we recognize that there have been significant changes that could be said to have delayed implementation of the audit’s recommendations, but it has been two full years since the report was delivered to the schools… with little progress toward implementation of efficiencies.

That is not to say that progress has not been made.  New procedures and processes have been created and much needed new policies are being put into place.  Budgeting by override has been defeated.  Large sums of unused  and “lost” funds have been uncovered, and much of that rightfully returned to the towns.  A new accounting firm has been hired for the school district.  Trust has begun to be restored and a great deal of obstructionism has been eliminated by the election of new school committee members, a new school committee chairman and the hiring Superintendent Harvey.

However…

There is no substitution for substantial progress.  We still have a school district with an average cost-per-student of $2000.00 more than the cost-per-student of equivalent school districts.  And while we do not expect every recommendation of the OA to be implemented, most citizens agree that, as we noted a year ago:

“the recommendations need to be more immediately addressed with clarity of action and definitive implementation dates, or acceptable reasons communicated for their not being considered”.

 Our residents desire and deserve clear and concise updates…and a strategic plan that utilizes the existing road map provided by the Operational Audit.

Let’s not find ourselves repeating this message again next year, for a third year in a row.

Respectfully submitted,

The Steering Committee of Enough Is Enough

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Margo Killoran January 31, 2013 at 12:55 AM
When I can show up in my pajamas, with a V&T, and tell people to f**k off when they deserve to be told so, then I'd be happy to run for any office!
Jay Burnham January 31, 2013 at 02:20 AM
Your time has come!...Let the voters decide! Ha!
Ron Powell January 31, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Well, based on this, I would have to rule that Michelle's statement that, "in 2010 we spent about 6% more per pupil than the state average to get way above average schools," is false. According to the data you provided, it appears that HWRSD spent 9.4 percent more than the state average. I will change my truthfulness rating on that statement from a 10 to a 2½. It is a false statement, but it was probably in error and not made deliberately or repeatedly.
Thinking Out Loud February 01, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Point of clarification: The average enrollment from the Blue Ribbon's 10 cohort school districts page (posted in the "photos and Video" section of this blog) shows an average number of students from the 10 districts as 2,227 vs Hamilton-Wenham's 2,196... a difference of only 1.4%.
Robert February 01, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Great exchange. It is now abundantly clear that we are spending more than necessary. Our new superintendent and key members of the school committe recognize this. Time for action!

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