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WESTMINSTER — The financial and accounting mess discovered more than six months ago at the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union is still being “unraveled.”

James Vezina, the new finance director for the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union told Bellows Falls Union High School board members that “we’re 14 feet down in the hole” trying to make sense of the four-town school district’s financial records.

“We’re trying to climb out, it’s going to be a struggle,” Vezina said.

Vezina said that he and other members of the business office were “working furiously” to get the end of the year financial reports ready. The school district’s fiscal year ended on Thursday.

Vezina, who has a long career as a school finance director, compared the problems to a “a knotted ball.” Prior to starting this spring, he was the former longtime finance director for the Hartford School District, and had previously worked in school finance in several New Hampshire school districts, including Keene, Lebanon, Newport and Enfield.

“I can’t unravel it quick enough,” he said. “It needs to be done. That’s where we’re at.”

He said he continued to find accounting mistakes, including charging the supervisory union for teacher substitutes’ pay that more correctly should have been charged to the high school. He said that items must be precisely coded for the schools’ accounting system, and if wrong, it creates more problems.

He stressed that the accounts for the employees must be 100 percent correct, “not 98 percent correct,” and that the precision would ultimately help the school board and the administration in future budgeting.

The Windham Northeast Supervisory Union has about 300 employees, he said.

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Vezina replaced Flora Pagan, who resigned in December after she was placed on administrative leave after a sharply critical audit report from the school districts’ auditor, HRH Smith of Maine. Pagan had only been the finance director for about 16 months.

While the Smith audit firm has found no funds are missing, it uncovered many accounting mistakes — many in the school districts’ favor. All of the school districts in the union currently have budget surpluses.

Vezina, who said he is a former school board member himself, said he had yet to be able to present the board with a revenue report. “I’ve never seen one,” he said.

“It’s another piece of this ugly pie,” he said.

“I’m new, but I’m not new to finance,” he said.

BFUHS School Director David Clark of Westminster, laid much of the blame on the eFinance computerized financial system used by the school district as a pilot statewide program under the state Agency of Education.

“It was a colossal blunder, based on a low bidder,” said Clark, who at the time was the chairman of the supervisory union.

Vezina, who started work fulltime in May, said he had never seen the methodology used in the WNESU office.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.