Braintree schools conduct wide-ranging audit

Braintree school officials are hoping that an external audit being conducted on most of the public school system will uncover ways to save money.

While teaching staff and curriculum will not be examined, the audit will review school personnel, school district administrations, accounting systems, purchasing, transportation, cafeteria needs, building maintenance, the Athletic Department, and revolving accounts.

According to School Committee chairwoman Shannon Hume, this will be the first time Braintree has conducted such an audit, using the Abrahams Group to complete the report.


“There are more and more districts doing this,” Hume said. “When I was first looking into this two years ago, Wenham did it, and another community on the North Shore. Hanover is in the process of doing one and using the same group we’re using.”

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Superintendent Peter Kurzberg noted that just because Braintree hadn’t done an audit this focused in the past doesn’t mean the system hasn’t been audited.

“We’re obviously involved in annual audits, and also have been involved with audits that the [state] Department of Elementary and Secondary Education puts on from time to time,” Kurzberg said. “But we have not hired an outside firm to conduct an audit such as this.”

The audit will be a useful tool to look at overarching needs, he said.

“I think the purpose for doing the audit,’’ he said, “is to see if there are non-instructional and [non]-educational areas that might realize some savings for us that could be used then for a more educational purposes. Or identify some things that perhaps we should have that we don’t have in terms of our operations.”


School officials aren’t anticipating any departmental or job mergers at this stage, though that could be a possibility.

The schools are also looking at transportation and the cafeteria system, debating whether to keep the two internal or hire outside vendors.

“We’re always doing things to improve — changing the curriculum, bringing in more professional redevelopment,’’ Hume said. “This is just another area. If we can be more cost-efficient, we should be doing that.”

Though Hume wouldn’t characterize money as being tight in Braintree, she did say there are always additional needs, such as shrinking class sizes, that could benefit from any savings.

The audit, which began in early November, will probably take three to four months to complete. Auditors are currently collecting questionnaires from employees, and next will conduct focus groups and individual interviews.


“The audit report will be a preliminary that will be presented, [though] not in a public meeting because information in it needs to be factual and correct,” Hume said. “A final report will go to School Committee and will be released to the public.”

The $42,000 audit is being paid for partially by the School Department, which is contributing $2,000 to the cost, and the town. According to Kurzberg, the town money came from additional state funding given to Braintree at the end of last year.

Jessica Bartlett can be reached at jessica.may.bartlett@gmail. com.