Original URL: http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/news/5310.php
States returning millions in school funds
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
By Nancy Zuckerbrod
WASHINGTON - While state officials nationwide say they need
more money to educate children, newly released figures show states are returning
millions to the federal Treasury rather than spending it in the hinterlands.
Last year, states returned $124 million to Washington that was to have gone
toward large education programs such as special education and aid to poor
children, according to Education Department data obtained by The Associated
The states had more than three years to tap into the money before it reverted to
the federal government on Sept. 30, 2003, said C. Todd Jones, a budget official
in the Education Department.
The money was less than 1 percent of the $18 billion in federal funding that had
been allocated to states on formulas in force during that period, Jones said
It could have been put to good use in the states, he said, and they have much
flexibility in the money's use. States, he said, "should seriously investigate
why they are turning such large sums back to the federal Treasury."
States and territories that returned the most were Florida, Georgia, Louisiana,
Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, the
department said. Arizona returned more than $3 million.
"We try to spend every penny that the federal government sends us," said Debbie
Ratcliff, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, which sent back $11
Ratcliff said schools sometimes let federal money lapse or fail to satisfy
requirements for it, but she said the state agency doesn't always find out in
time to send the money to alternative schools.
Tennessee, which returned $3.9 million to the federal government last year, is
working to fix the problem by having budget officers work more closely with
program experts, said Kim Karesh, a spokeswoman for the state education
Besides the $124 million in formula funding returned, states sent back $30
million last year that was supposed to have gone toward projects specific to a
The money returned to the U.S. Treasury is different from roughly $6 billion in
federal funding the Bush administration says states are sitting on that has not
yet expired. The administration this week countered arguments that it was
inadequately funding education by saying states are taking too long to spend
billions of federal dollars meant for schools.