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Inspector general to oversee $1.8B FEMA grant

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Posted: Sep 19, 2010 11:55 AM
Source: Associated Press

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Topics: Inspector general, oversee, FEMA, grant, school

Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek says an inspector general will be appointed to monitor the spending of $1.8 billion in federal funding awarded for a citywide school construction project.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency grant was awarded last month shortly before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Pastorek said the inspector general will be an employee of the Recovery School District's construction division and will be picked by RSD Superintendent Paul Vallas, according to a report in The Times-Picayune.

The new inspector general will supplement a master plan oversight committee that is already holding regular meetings.

New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux will also be involved in overseeing part of the complex slate of new construction and major renovations for about 85 schools.

The most recent strategic plan from Quatrevaux's office shows officials are in the process of auditing the $400 million portion of the recovery money that will go to schools controlled by the Orleans Parish School Board.

The bulk of New Orleans public schools, and the remaining $1.4 billion in FEMA money, are under the auspices of the state-run Recovery School District.

Pastorek and Vallas were not available to elaborate on the oversight plan.

Quatrevaux said by e-mail that he is in discussions with Vallas about how his office might offer limited assistance beyond the Orleans Public School Board audits described in the strategic planning document.

Until Vallas appoints his own inspector general, the state education department's internal auditor will be evaluating the FEMA projects on a daily basis, Pastorek said at last Tuesday's Board of Elementary and Secondary Education meeting.

In late 2008, school officials approved a facilities master plan that remains the blueprint for how the FEMA money will be spent.

The $700 million first phase is already well under way because that portion of the settlement had already been promised by FEMA. Three new schools - Langston Hughes Elementary, Greater Gentilly High School and L.B. Landry High School - and three renovations - William J. Guste Elementary, Andrew Wilson Elementary and Joseph Craig Elementary - are already complete.

Thirteen projects are in design or construction phases and are scheduled to be finished in 2012 or 2013. Four projects will begin in the next few months.

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