Hottel's new district not faulting him for this one's $3.36m boo-boo

Officials in North Andover, Mass., didn’t express much concern when asked by the local paper about their new superintendent and business administrator leaving a $3.36 million shortfall in their previous school district.

Last week, the Eagle-Tribune published a story in which town and school officials said they weren’t worried about Nashua’s budget crisis repeating itself in their town.

Under the watch of Superintendent Christopher Hottel and Chief Operating Officer Jim Mealey, the school district overspent its budget by $3.36 million last year and has another $3 million projected deficit this year.

Hottel and Mealey both left for similar positions in the North Andover school system. The budget shortfalls were discovered shortly after they left at the end of June.

“It doesn’t seem applicable to our situation here,” Town Manager Mark Rees told the Eagle-Tribune. “I’ve had conversations with (Hottel). I think whatever occurred in Nashua will not reoccur here.”

In a written statement to the Eagle-Tribune, Hottel again pointed to the “antiquated” accounting system used by the city. Hottel told the paper it wouldn’t happen in North Andover, since the town’s budgeting software is much more advanced and “state-of-the-art.”

“There are protocols and procedures in place to prevent reporting errors of the type Nashua has experienced,” Hottel said in his statement. “All users of the financial and accounting software . . . are thoroughly trained in the use of the system.”

School Committee Chairman Stanley Limpert told the Eagle-Tribune that the committee wasn’t alarmed by the news, since Hottel’s explanation seemed logical.

“It seemed all pretty straightforward,” Limpert said. “We have a brand new accounting system, only a couple years old. It seems like a different situation than here.

“There is all kinds of new transparency of where the money is going that wasn’t there before,” Limpert said of the town’s new accounting system. “We’re doing very well.”