Utah Education Office Makes $25M School Funding Mistake

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, April 12, 2012

A miscalculation at the State Office of Education has led to a $25 million mistake in Utah’s education budget for next school year.

"The Legislature remains committed to fund the new students entering our system. This is Utah — when we find a problem we fix it," said Senate budget chairman Sen. Lyle Hillyard on Wednesday in a press announcement. "I believe we can find a way to keep the schools whole and create better verification on enrollment numbers to prevent this from happening in the future."

The problem was that the state office underestimated the number of students expected in schools next school year. The correct number will cost the state $25 million more than anticipated.

Two top education finance officials at the state office have submitted their resignations as a consequence: Todd Hauber, associate superintendent, and Larry Newton, director of school finance.

According to the announcement, the miscalculation "can be managed with the fiscal resources available to the Utah State Office of Education and the Legislature."

Mark Peterson, a state office spokesman, said each year money called a "carry forward balance" is typically left over in the state’s education budget, partially because of Utah’s conservative budgeting process. He said the state office will likely use that money from this school year to fill the $25 million hole. It won’t be known exactly how much carry forward money will be available until after July 1, but Peterson said there’s been at least $30 million left over each year for the past five years.

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