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Selectmen Change Direction, Ask Audit Committee to Oversee School Audit

After reopening a discussion had at a previous meeting, selectmen are now directing the Audit Committee to be involved in overseeing School Committee accounts audit.

It now appears that Wayland's Audit Committee will be involved in the oversight of a school accounts audit thanks to a second vote on the issue at the Aug. 27 Board of Selectmen meeting.

At their Aug. 20 meeting, of the newly formed Audit Committee to include oversight of the Wayland Public Schools accounts in question, in spite of much public comment and more than 200 petition signatures requesting that they support the extended charge.

Board chair John Bladon said that following that meeting, Selectmen Joe Nolan approached him having rethought the issue and with the hope that the board "could look to a way to make it work within the current scope of the Audit Committee.”

Bladon, Nolan and Steve Correia voted against the measure on Aug. 20, while Doug Leard and Ed Collins voted for it.

But at this Monday's meeting, Nolan, Correia and Bladon voted in favor of a motion drafted by Town Administrator Fred Turkington, at Bladon's request, that attempted to "provide some assistance consistent with the School Committee request while preserving the integrity of the existing charge to the Audit Committee."

Leard and Collins voted against the motion.

Collins said he was pleased that the selectmen were revisiting the issue, but he felt that the motion proposed placed too many limits on the Audit Committee. He asked instead that the motion be edited to direct the Audit Committee to perform the tasks outlined by the School Committee in its July 27 letter sent to several auditing firms seeking proposals on performing the audit.

"I'm proposing that we adopt what the School Committee itself has said it wants," Collins said.

But Turkington pointed out that the School Committee does not want the Audit Committee to perform the audit, which is what the School Committee letter was seeking. Rather, the School Committee wants the Audit Committee to analyze the proposals from the auditing firms to determine which proposal would best accomplish the School Committee's goals.

"I just want this behind us," Leard said. "I supported having the Audit Committee do this job and take on this responsibility. I don’t want their hands tied. If they find something and want to pursue it further, I want them to have the opportunity to do that. Residents have a lot of serious concerns, and I want them resolved.”

Under the 3-2 vote Monday night, the Audit Committee has been tasked to:

  • "Conduct a review of and provide input to the School Committee on the submitted proposals received" in response to the School Committee's letter, with a specific eye toward "advising the School Committee on the project scope and tasks to be completed by the audit/consulting firms."
  • "Rank order the responding firms and provide a recommendation to the School Committee."
  • "Support and assist the selected audit/consulting firm in responding to questions and gathering documents necessary to complete their review of certain school accounts as outlined in the scope of services."

Turkington said he will continue to work toward drafting an amendment that would allow the board to reach consensus.

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