The Omaha Public Schools last year accidentally asked for too much money, and the state mistakenly obliged.
The district listed a special-education expense twice — on an expenses report and on a grant reimbursement request — and got paid twice.
This school year, to get the estimated $6.3 million back, the state won’t give OPS as much.
Nebraska Department of Education officials missed the error last year when auditing the district’s special education program but caught it in August during the annual audit.
“I don’t think it was anything malicious or fraudulent,” said Russ Inbody, finance administrator with the state education department. “I just think they made a mistake.”
Inbody knew of no other districts that made the same mistake.
Omaha school board members discussed the oversight Monday while hearing a presentation on the district’s independent audit for last school year.
The education department notified OPS of the error in August, but board members were told only recently.
“For the board not to get that information until we were presented it with our audit is not acceptable,” said Freddie Gray, board president.
The district plans to move around funds, delay purchases, such as new textbooks, or use cash reserves to cover the estimated $6.3 million, said Virginia Moon, OPS interim superintendent.
The state will withhold funds this school year, but that will not affect special education programs, Moon said, because those services are required by law. The district has a general fund budget of about $484.2 million this school year.
The state plans to work with OPS on when to withhold the funds, Inbody said, but it will happen this school year.
In 2009, Nebraska received $234 million that was earmarked as state aid to schools the next two years. The state also got $80 million for special-education programs.
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