State makes $12M error in allocations

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The New York State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced on Friday that her department had made errors in calculating Title II A disbursements in 2017-18 amounting to more than $12 million. The errors resulted in overpayments to 275 charter schools and underpayments to some 677 school districts and 10 special act schools statewide. Three Suffolk County school districts also received overpayments.

Elmont and Franklin Square Free Union School Districts and Sewanhaka Central High School District are owed a total of more than $22,000, while the Academy Charter School must repay nearly $125,000 in overallocated funds.

According to a formula made public last week, schools and school districts that are owed less than $130,000 for 2017-18 will receive full payments on top of their 2018-19 Title I disbursements. Ninety-nine percent of school districts and special act schools will be made whole during the coming year, according to an Education Department release. Schools that owe money as a result of overpayments will have the amounts subtracted from their totals on a prorated basis for the next five school years.

“The State Education Department regrets this unfortunate error and any undue burden it may place on schools,” Elia said in a statement. “We are taking immediate steps to correct it and ensure it does not happen again, including strengthening our internal controls. We will do everything possible to reduce the impact for all schools, including to reimburse 99 percent of districts this year.”

Under new federal guidelines, funds have been shifted from large states with urban centers to smaller states. New York is slated to lose some $60 million in federal funding for local schools the school years from 2018-19 to 2023-24, according to the Congressional Research Service.

To offset these losses, state officials will begin allocating Title IV, Part A Student Support and Academic Enrichment funds to all eligible districts and schools. The majority schools that are able to recoup funding will do so through Title IV A funding, but additional Title II A funding will be available to some schools for the improvement of school conditions and the use of technology. Education Department officials said they expected these funds to offset any shortfalls or repayments under the current Title II A formula.