Tinier New Orleans district also is better run

May 18, 2007
System gets its first "clean" audit in at least four years.

The vastly shrunken New Orleans school district has marked a small but significant milestone in its efforts to recover not just from Hurricane Katrina, but from more than a decade of mismanagement and theft that left the system's finances in shambles. It has received its first unqualified or "clean" audit in at least four years. The district now operates five schools and oversees 12 charters; most of the schools that were part of the district before Hurricane Katrina are now under the control of the state of Louisiana's Recovery District. State officials say the decision to return more schools to local district control will depend in part on the stability of the system's finances.

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EARLIER: After 21 months and $21.6 million worth of work, turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal says the Orleans Parish (La.) school district has regained solid financial footing, with $200 million on hand to pay down debt and hopes of its first clean audit--one based on accurate financial statements--in years. In that same period, the flood following Hurricane Katrina and a subsequent state takeover of most New Orleans schools have completely changed the nature of the system: from a largely failing, undisciplined behemoth of more than 120 campuses to a boutique system of just five schools, three of them magnets with selective admissions requirements.
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Thousands of children in New Orleans who were trapped in failing schools before Hurricane Katrina now have real choices for the first time and the hope of getting a good education in a safe environment. Transforming a mediocre system into a positive and distinctive characteristic of the city also would be a catalyst for new residents and businesses. But those hopes will not be fully realized without an overarching vision to guide the growth of this new system of schools.
Click here to read the New Orleans Times-Picayune article

Even though the Recovery School District in New Orleans has been plagued by problems as it works to reopen buildings damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the watchdog Public Affairs Research Council says any talk of returning the schools to local control is misguided. The group says the district, operated by the state of Louisiana, should be given enough time to show that it can run schools effectively. More than 100 underperforming schools in the Orleans Parish district were placed under control of the state in 2005; however, many of those were damaged in the hurricane and its aftermath and have not yet reopened.
Click here to read the New Orleans Times-Picayune article

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