More than a dozen consulting firms and other companies turned out for a “pre-bid” conference last week aimed at hiring a project manager to straighten out the fiscal management of the New Orleans public schools.
The Louisiana education department organized the event after an audit by the U.S. Department of Education’s office of the inspector general questioned the district’s spending of some $70 million in federal Title I money over a 2½-year period. (“State Vows to Fix Finances in New Orleans,” March 9, 2005.)
State Superintendent of Schools Cecil J. Picard has said that federal officials threatened to withhold future funds to the district unless the money is accounted for. The 70,000-student New Orleans district has been long plagued by financial mismanagement, although its current leaders have taken steps to improve business practices.
Mr. Picard said he hopes to reach an agreement by the end of the month with the school board to have an outside firm overhaul the district’s fiscal operations. Proposals from interested companies are due April 18.