Pembroke school board approves $10K for audit

  • Pembroke Academy as seen on April, 2, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Pembroke school district will spend up to $10,000 to get to the bottom of the $1 million budget shortfall that spiked taxes just in time for the holidays.

Three members of the school board – Chairman Dan Driscoll, Dave Doherty, and Patricia Nardone Boucher – met for a special meeting Tuesday to approve the expenditure for a special audit unanimously.

They also gave Driscoll and Tom Serafin, another board member, the authority to pick the firm that will conduct the investigation. Nardone Boucher made the motion to do so, saying she wanted to get the audit underway as quickly as possible.

“My fear is that we’re going to run into February and then into public hearings and then we get slammed with, ‘Where’s the report? This is the public hearing, you’re hiding something,’ ” she said.

Residents have been livid ever since a surprise shortfall required a sudden hike in taxes, with bills on a typical home increasing upward of $1,000. The district has said the biggest reason for the shortfall was more than $700,000 in tuition revenues that never arrived when non-district towns sent fewer students than expected to Pembroke Academy.

But residents and town officials have been dissatisfied with the district’s response and incredulous about why the administration didn’t have a better handle on enrollment figures. Citizens submitted a petition, signed by hundreds in town, demanding a special meeting on the shortfall.

“It’s going to be a general audit of what happened, why we have a shortfall. They’re going to go through all the past practices to make sure the proper safeguards were in place and make recommendations to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Driscoll said after the meeting.

Driscoll said the goal is to have the report done and presented to the public by the end of January.

(Lola Duffort can be reached at 369-3321 or lduffort@cmonitor.com.)