State plays catch-upPublished 12:33pm Friday, October 18, 2013
ST. PAUL — Minnesota schools are receiving catch-up payments from the state, which had been partially delaying allowances to ease prior budget shortfalls.
The Fergus Falls School District is among the schools getting the money. It will receive an estimated $688,973 in deferred payments this school year.
Other area district payment amounts include Battle Lake at $115,462; Henning at $116,394; Pelican Rapids at $252,250 and Underwood at $168,423.
A memo from the Minnesota Management and Budget agency said schools were back on their regular payment schedules as of Tuesday. To account for the past delays, most school districts will see bigger aid checks between now and next June.
For several years, a portion of checks to public schools had been delayed as part of an accounting maneuver to help the state balance its books, as the constitution requires. At the low point, schools were receiving as little as 60 percent of their promised aid on time.
The payback results from a surplus at the end of the fiscal year that ended on June 30. A law passed last spring required the state to make settling up with schools a priority.
The amount each school district gets depends largely on the number of students and how many children have special needs. For instance, the St. Paul School District will have an extra $4 million in its Oct. 15 check while the tiny Milroy district will get $4,812 more. But the larger school districts also saw the most money withheld during the lean times.
All told, $45 million in catch-up payments will go out this week and many times that in installments will be made by June 30.
The state still has $225 million in IOUs to schools based on how property tax payments are accounted for. The next chance for the state to erase that debt comes after an economic forecast is released in November; any surplus dollars reflected in that report will be earmarked for schools.