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BISD votes to hire forensic audit firm

BEAUMONT- by Haley Bull

The Beaumont-ISD board of managers worked through a lengthy agenda Thursday night, including hammering out a timeline for hiring a new superintendent, a report from the state's conservator and the hiring of a forensic audit firm.

Following reports of financial mismanagement in the district's past, the new board of managers is working to clean up the mess and prevent any problems in the future. Board President Jimmy Simmons told the managers they couldn't afford not to conduct a forensic audit.

The board unanimously voted to hire Weaver and Tidwell to comb through a $380 million bond from 2006. The firm works with 25 districts in the state, including El Paso, Plano and Dallas ISD's. One team member includes a former FBI agent who specializes in white collar crime. The total cost of the firm's work and the audit won't be known until after it has conducted a review of the work that will be needed.

The budget was one focal point of TEA conservator Fred Shafer's report on the district also presented at Thursday's meeting. Shafer said next year's budget will require difficult decisions after the TEA's attendance report on the district resulted in $500,000 the district must pay back to the state. But under a new superintendent and board, Shafer said there will be more collaboration and an effort to bring credibility back to the district.

"You have accepted the challenge and worked hard over the past five months to bring credibility back to the Beaumont Independent School District. The work however continues and although I'd like to see this board room filled to capacity with community members supporting your endeavors their absence I believe is a testament of their confidence that you will continue to do the work that's in the best interest of this district and the students that it serves," Shafer told the managers.

Shafer said one of the most important decisions the board will make will be hiring a new superintendent. The board hammered out a schedule with a search firm in a special meeting prior to their regular board meeting. The board of managers could tentatively vote to hire a new superintendent May 13, 2015 although that's subject to change.

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