, Salem, MA


May 2, 2014

Letter: Ipswich should support operational audit

Letter to the editor:

First, I want to be clear, I want the best education Ipswich children can get. But not at the expense of being taxed out of our homes.

Our tax bill, your tax bill, has continued to go up and up over the past few years at an uncomfortable rate. Some increases were justified, some not. In my opinion.

But years ago, if memory serves me correctly, the School Committee stated that if we gave them the override, they would not have to ask for another for a long time. This does not feel like a long time. The schools have had a deficit for a few years, now to the tune of $1.5 million. To make up that deficit, the School Committee wants another override. Another permanent tax. And this override only carries the school budget for five years, then what, another override?

We as taxpayers have the opportunity to put a stop to the override requested. It is called an operational audit. Operational audits (often called performance audits) examine the use of an organization’s resources to evaluate whether those resources are being used in the most efficient and effective way to fulfill the organization’s mission and objectives.

Hamilton-Wenham schools, in 2010, had an operational audit brought about by citizen petition. The petition passed by town vote, and the audit was done. The audit found an estimated $16.3 million in savings over a five-year period.

Among the recommendations:

Eliminate 17.4 full-time equivalent teaching positions ($1,246,084 savings per year);

Reduce high school planning time ($91,098);

Eliminate a school nurse position ($51,698 savings per year), and add a high school guidance counselor in 2011-2012 ($71,614 additional per year);

Reduce general fund expenditures, which the audit determined had grown at a rate much faster than the state average ($1,703,132 savings per year);

Create a principal’s position for the middle school and eliminate one assistant principal, as opposed to the current alignment with one high school-middle school principal and two assistants ($15,000 additional per year);

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