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Minnesota schools are receiving catch-up payments from the state,

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ST. PAUL – Minnesota schools are receiving catch-up payments from the state, which had been partially delaying allowances to ease prior budget shortfalls.

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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 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.

Moorhead School District will receive $495,075, and Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Public Schools will receive $114,889 this week.

“For school districts, it’s very good news,” Moorhead Superintendent Lynne Kovash said Wednesday. “It really helps us to make sure we’re in a good sustainable future. … It just helps our books and helps us with our cash flow.”

The Moorhead School District did not have to borrow cash this year, Kovash said.

Last year, Moorhead schools borrowed $8.5 million because of the delay in state aid payments, Assistant Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak said. In the three years before that, the district had to borrow about $5 million a year, he said.

“The fact that we’re getting more of our money that we’re due this year doesn’t change anything. It’s still the same budget,” said DGF Superintendent Bryan Thygeson. “It helps cash flow. We’re not borrowing money (and paying interest). That’s the best part.”

Other area public school districts and the payments they will receive this week are:

Detroit Lakes, $248,379; Frazee-Vergas, $74,410; Barnesville, $66,162; Hawley, $69,545; Park Rapids, $123,752; Mahnomen, $75,673; Fergus Falls, $299,466; Pelican Rapids, $71,744; Perham-Dent, $110,700; Fertile-Beltrami, $41,458; East Grand Forks, $133,655; Crookston, $120,226; Rothsay, $22,705; Ulen-Hitterdal, $25,400; Ada-Borup, $46,594; Lake Park-Audubon, $46,384.

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.

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