The New York State Department of Education announced last week that it had discovered an error in calculations that resulted in a misallocation of $12 million in federal funding to more than 900 school districts and charter schools.
In a prepared statement, NYSED Commissioner Mary Elia said that the department itself found it had made a mistake in calculating Title IIA aid, which funds professional development for teachers and administrators. As a result, $12 million in federal aid — some 7.8 percent of the $153 million in aid allocated to schools last year — was incorrectly allocated.
Elia said the department takes full responsibility for the mistake and is working to make the affected districts whole.
“This is our error and we own it,” said Elia in a conference call with reporters Friday. “We want to be upfront about it, and we will work with schools to make this as pain free as possible.”
In her prepared statement, Elia noted that the department is taking steps to strengthen its internal controls to prevent any future mistakes.
The overage went to three Suffolk County school districts (Fishers Island, New Suffolk and Sagaponack) and 275 charter schools, including the Syracuse Academy of Science and the Southside Academy. In order to recover the money, the state will reduce funding to those schools over the next five years rather than have them return it outright.
“Reducing annual allocations over a period of years will ensure that those LEAs [local educational agencies] that were overpaid in 2017-18 continue to have access to Title II, Part A funds to support professional development activities for teachers, principals and other school leaders throughout this repayment process,” Elia said in the statement.
Meanwhile, most of those schools that were shorted will be recompensed in the 2018-19 school year. Some, however, including the Syracuse City School District, which is owed $1,828,776, will be paid back over two years; Elia said it will take four years to pay back New York City’s school system.
Local school districts and the additional amount they are owed are listed below:
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.