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Braintree Officials Look to School System Audit to Squeeze Savings

The Abrahams Group has been selected to go over non-educational aspects of the Braintree Public Schools.

Nearly five years after the town's departments were audited following the change in Braintree's government, the school department is now preparing for an independent examination of its own practices.

The Abrahams Group, based in Framingham, has performed audits of districts or portions of districts in Wayland, Westfield, Springfield, Hull and other towns, and has begun in Braintree by requesting job analysis questionnaires from 89 staff members.

Answers to those forms – due last week – will serve as the basis for a comprehensive review of Braintree Public Schools. Abrahams will look at the department's budget process, building and grounds maintenance, transportation, school lunch, communications, accounting and other areas, looking for redundancies and savings in non-educational functions.

The firm will also conduct voluntary focus groups, look at revolving accounts and review financial reporting on non-athletic extracurricular programs.

Key areas where Abrahams could find savings include streamlining the payroll system, consolidating information technology, and making transportation, purchasing and the school lunch program more efficient, Mark Abrahams, a CPA and president of the group, told School Committee members last week.

Abrahams plans to prepare a draft report that the school department can review in about 13 weeks before presenting a final report to the School Committee. The firm has already interviewed committee members and other administrative staff.

The committee voted in May 2011 to formally look into the costs of doing an audit and it was approved about a year ago. Earlier this year, member Joe Zarrella voted against the department's fiscal 2013 budget because an audit had yet to be performed.

abdul November 26, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I agree! lets keep Braintree public schools our top priority and keep us informed. Thanks
Matt November 26, 2012 at 04:52 PM
This audit group will be looking into each schools budget to see if they are spending money wisely but that's if the schools agree to it. Am I reading that right? If I am and a school doesn't agree to this then what happens? And how are they going to tell if a teacher is doing a good job they will look at answers to questions the teachers where asked. Why not observe the teachers to see how they are doing?
Joseph Markman November 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Hi Matt, As I understand it, the audit firm will not look at teachers at all, nor will they examine any educational expenses. They are only looking at non-educational expenses, like administrative costs, transportation, etc. Also, individual schools will not be agreeing to the audit themselves, as it is a district-wide audit and approved by the School Committee.
Matt November 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
And the questionnaires are for what exactly?
Joseph Markman November 26, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I don't have a copy of the questionnaires, but the summary provided to the committee last week included questions such as who do you communicate with on a regular basis, what kind of technology do you use, how much time do you spend on certain tasks, etc. Those answers will then be used to look for redundancies and other ways that the department can save time and money.

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