The Main Stream

Jan 29, 2013 12:45 AM by Sean Mooney

State funding error could mean bonus for teachers

TUCSON - A huge error in calculating education funding could mean big money for some Arizona school districts. But it could also cost a number of Arizona public and charter schools.

The department of education must reimburse $38-million to underfunded districts statewide and recover six million dollars, from those it overpaid. The funding in question was intended to cover teachers salaries.

While some districts were overpaid as a result of this accounting error $32 million is going to paid out to districts all over arizona and that means a lot of teachers will soon see larger amounts on their paychecks.

The discrepancy centers around sales tax money set aside for teachers salaries. In 2006 the state apparently used enrollment numbers from the wrong year creating a domino effect with incorrect amounts being distributed ever since.

Schools most likely to have to return money are charter schools and districts with plunging enrollment.

While the state has not released specific amounts that will be paid out the Arizona Education Association President, Andrew Morrill, says he pleased the Arizona Department of Education aknowledged the problem and are now correcting it. "Any news of a possible funding boost is welcome after five years of funding cuts to public schools. this money is especially important because voters approved the sales tax revenue for arizona's classroom," Morrill said. "The onus to fund schools adequately still rests with the legislature and with Governor Brewer."

Flowing Wells Superintendent Nic Clement says he believes his district is owed money and if that is the case he wants to be sure his teachers get paid, "If we were underpaid and we are going to get additional dollars we need to make sure those additional dollars to the teachers that are owed because that is what the initiative said we need to do," he said.

Payouts could come as early as March. Mesa Unified School District is expected to get 3.3 million dollars. The Arizona Department of Education is supposed to release all the numbers sometime next week.

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