Superintendent cautios about aid payback

The news that the state Legislature could partially reimburse school districts with new-found surplus money is being received with reserve by the Princeton School Board.

Princeton Superintendent Rick Lahn briefly talked about it at the March 13 school board meeting.

When the state was having difficulty last summer dealing with a projected big deficit, part of its strategy was to delay payment of funds to school districts across the state. It amounted to borrowing $2,700 per student statewide, according to Lahn, noting that a bill in the Legislature would authorize releasing $430 million to repay $300 of each $2,700 held back per student. So if the bill became law the state would still owe each district $2,400 per student, Lahn told the board. This partial reimbursement of $300 per student for Princeton would total $1.1 million, Lahn noted.

“I can’t guarantee it,” Lahn added about the partial reimbursement even getting approved. Legislators have been discussing the idea of shifting $430 million from the state’s emergency fund and cash accounts. About the same time the legislators have been talking about a combined $1.2 billion surplus over the last few months as lending more energy to making the partial reimbursement.

Meanwhile, Princeton and other school districts “have to carry the debt” while not getting the funds owed, Lahn said.