Newly elected member Donna Bouchard refused to sign a controversial letter released today by the Wayland School Committee. The text of that letter is as follows.

Quote Originally Posted by 4 of the 5 members of the Wayland School Committee
The Wayland School Committee invites the community to attend its meeting on Tuesday, September 3rd, at 7PM. At this meeting, Jim Powers from Powers & Sullivan LLC, a leading independent audit firm, will present his findings related to the "Forensic Procedures Engagement of the Wayland Public Schools Financial Activity; Fiscal Years 2007 through Fiscal 2012".

Over the last few years, the School Committee has heard concerns raised by residents with regard to our fiscal operations. We have worked very hard to respond to these concerns. Under the leadership and guidance of our Superintendent, Paul Stein, and our Business Administrator, Geoff MacDonald, and with their experience and expertise, we have made it a priority to improve our financial operations and identified it as a District goal these past two years.

By way of background, at the 2012 Spring Town Meeting, residents voted to request the State Auditor to conduct an audit of certain school accounts. The State Auditor declined to conduct such an audit in June 2012. The School Committee then decided to undertake an audit/review on its own in response to those concerns raised by taxpayers. To minimize unnecessary expenditure on the audit/review and to understand the best scope of work, the Committee agreed to hire an independent firm to perform a pre-audit of the school accounts, and then based on this firm's findings, complete a thorough review as necessary. Working with the new Audit Committee, in the fall of 2012 the School Committee hired Powers & Sullivan to conduct the pre-audit and define the scope of work for the audit/review of these accounts. In late January of this year, Powers & Sullivan presented its report to the School Committee. With this defined scope of work, the School Committee issued a Request for Proposals (RFP). Working again with the Audit Committee, in early April the School Committee hired Powers & Sullivan to complete this project.

The final report from Powers & Sullivan will be presented to the School Committee at its meeting on Tuesday, September 3rd, at 7PM and is posted online at http://www.wayland.k12.ma.us. During this meeting, the School Committee will receive the report and ask questions of Jim Powers. The Committee will then hold an extended public comment period for the community to ask questions of Jim Powers related to this report.

The School Committee is committed to working closely with our Superintendent and Business Administrator to support the fiscal operations of the school system with any eye towards efficiency, transparency and accountability.

We always appreciate hearing from you. You may contact any of the School Committee members with your feedback.

Thank you for your support.

WAYLAND SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Barb Fletcher, Chair
Beth Butler, Vice Chair
Malcolm Astley
Ellen Grieco
I suspect that some readers of this letter may be having difficulty spotting the controversy. I have it on good account that in particular, Ms. Bouchard took exception to the following scandalous paragraph (the second in the letter).

Quote Originally Posted by 4 of the 5 members of the Wayland School Committee
Over the last few years, the School Committee has heard concerns raised by residents with regard to our fiscal operations. We have worked very hard to respond to these concerns. Under the leadership and guidance of our Superintendent, Paul Stein, and our Business Administrator, Geoff MacDonald, and with their experience and expertise, we have made it a priority to improve our financial operations and identified it as a District goal these past two years.
It may well be that a few readers STILL can't spot the objectionable content. I would point it out to you ... but I can't find it either. Please re-read the paragraph and propose any possible sticking points. Certainly, there's no debating the first sentence. That only leaves two sentences as offending candidates. Let's take them one at a time.

Quote Originally Posted by 4 of the 5 members of the Wayland School Committee
(the School Committee has) worked very hard to respond to these concerns.
Perhaps Ms. Bouchard takes exception to the word "very?" Or "hard?" Or "worked?" Certainly, the Committee has responded, including but not limited to the commissioning of the effort spelled out in the third paragraph of their letter. It's incomprehensible that Ms. Bouchard would withhold her signature based on the presence of one or even all three of the words that I've suggested. That leaves only the third sentence as the possible troublemaker.

Quote Originally Posted by 4 of the 5 members of the Wayland School Committee
Under the leadership and guidance of our Superintendent, Paul Stein, and our Business Administrator, Geoff MacDonald, and with their experience and expertise, we have made it a priority to improve our financial operations and identified it as a District goal these past two years.
If nothing else, this sentence offers more words with which to differ. Is Ms. Bouchard claiming that Dr. Stein and/or Mr. MacDonald are not offering leadership and/or guidance? Is she saying that improving financial operations has not been a district goal? (It couldn't be that--a quick check of said goals reveals the truth of that part of the statement.)

Ah, so it must be "priority" that's thrown a burr under her saddle!

Shame on you, Dr. Stein (and/or Mr. MacDonald), for what I can only assume was placing the education of Wayland Public Schools students ahead of the auditing of practices discontinued at least several years .