HOLDEN, Mass. — The Wachusett Regional School District school committee will consider Monday whether to go forward with a full forensic audit — a move that some say is necessary to restore credibility in the member communities — as recommended Monday night in a 6-3 vote by the business and finance subcommittee.
The full forensic audit would cover the period from FY11 to present.
"When one hears that a budget has been overspent by $1.2 million or $1, one has an impression that money is unaccounted for, money is missing, money has been misappropriated, perhaps there has been fraud, or perhaps there has been all sorts of malicious intent and so forth," said Superintendent Thomas Pandiscio. "None of that is true."
Pandiscio said what occurred was "the equivalent of spending money in the wrong categories and in a way that is inappropriate in terms of reconciling our general ledger with our general ledger revenue."
The superintendent said the district's auditor will look at the exact transaction that has caused the problems, and that it is critical to do a self-assessment of the district's financial practices, as well as "have a third-party come in and look at the systems that should have been in place to make sure this doesn't occur again."
"The community has a right to know and a need to know and a desire to know, and that's all good," he said. "We just need to move in a linear fashion so that we have a sense of exactly the problem we have."
While some school committee members expressed conviction that the forensic audit is the only option going forward to regenerate credibility after the mistakes, others worried about the potential costs involved.
Member Michelle Sciabarrasi said, "I think it's a small amount of money considering the amount of distrust that has been created since this has happened."
School Committee Chair Duncan Leith said that, while the board needs to do something to get the trust back, he could not vote to support potentially spending $300,000 on a forensic audit.
Lance Harris supported the recommendation for an audit, but with the caveat that when the full committee meets on Monday, it moves to table it or vote no if it has not come up with a cost figure.
Do you think the district should pursue a full forensic audit, regardless of the cost? Take the poll and weigh in through The Holden Daily Voice's comment section.