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The decision to merge the organizations capped a tumultuous few weeks, in which three of the ELC's nine employees left the organization and it was forced to postpone its national conference, which had been set for October in Orlando, Fla. Ms. Keegan blamed the delay on the recent Florida hurricanes, which threatened to keep many Floridians from attending. The conference, an important fund-raiser for the ELC, will be held in December, she said.
The new organization, which likely will keep the ELC name, will now manage the Following the Leaders project, which has received $23.5 million in federal grants. The project is a package of tools to help states and school districts meet the provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
AccountabilityWorks has a contract with the ELC to work on Following the Leaders. Mr. Rebarber also has produced reports and helped organize conferences for the council.
Two people knowledgeable about the ELC's finances, who did not want their names to be used, said the ELC has depended largely on federal money to stay open in recent months. Both said the group was in danger of dipping into federal money designated only for non-administrative activities for the Following the Leaders project.
Ms. Keegan denied those claims, saying that she "took steps internally" to ensure that the ELC did not "get forward on a grant." She acknowledged that she had largely failed to raise money from sources other than the federal government.