- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Calls for Improved Oversight of Background Checks and Financial Activities at Mount Wachusett Community College
Boston — In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found Mount Wachusett Community College (MWCC) could not demonstrate that all students in its early childhood education (ECE) program had passed Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) checks before beginning their teaching practicums with students. The audit, which examined July 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018, also found MWCC was not reporting the full costs of operations in its financial statements which help guide important decisions about the school’s activities.
“Mount Wachusett Community College has many significant responsibilities, but two of the most important are public safety and sound financial management. Our audit makes clear the college must do a better job to ensure they’re not putting children at risk, and use all the financial information at its disposal so it can make informed decisions,” Bump said. “These are serious matters and I’m encouraged that the school has indicated it is taking steps to address them.”
During the audit, MWCC stated that CORI checks were performed for all students participating in practicum courses, but auditors found the college did not have records of CORI reports for 40 of the 95 students. The audit notes that allowing students to participate in practicums without ensuring that required CORI checks were performed could pose a risk to children at the facilities, specifically local daycare centers. In its response, MWCC reported it was taking steps to resolve this issue.
Additionally, the audit found MWCC’s financial reports, used to measure operating performance, were incomplete. Auditors revealed MWCC’s financial statements did not include indirect costs, such as operations, maintenance, depreciation, and administration, for its Green Street Cafe (GSC) and Mount Fitness Center (MFC), which are part of the college’s auxiliary services. The audit notes that since the café and fitness center are subsidized by the college, it is prudent that financial statements provided to the board of the college reflect indirect costs so they can properly allocate resources and set tuition and fees for students. Further, the audit notes MWCC management did not use detailed management reporting, which considers costs, revenue, and operational activities, to guide decisions for GSC and MFC.
MWCC is one of 15 public community colleges in Massachusetts. The college offers three programs in the ECE major to help prepare students to work with children professionally. Students must participate in a practicum course that requires 150 hours of working directly with children in a supervised ECE setting. As of December 31, 2018, there were 118 students enrolled in ECE programs.