PED seeks payback from Portales

By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Portales Schools Business Manager Sarah Marquez says the district is being asked to pay $120,000 back to the Public Education Department that was misappropriated during the 2012-2013 school year.
Portales is one of 50 districts affected by an accounting error the PED acknowledged it made. Deputy Education Secretary Paul Aguilar has said the error was due to an alphabetical listing problem. About 25 districts and charter schools were shorted by a total of about $830,000, while another 25 or so, including Portales, were overpaid a total of about $2.5 million.
Marquez says she’s still in the dark about details of the repayment but she said when the PED first announced its mistake in May, she was told the district would not be asked to pay that money back.
“We haven’t gotten any direction,” Marquez said.
Marquez says the funds were budgeted and already used this last fiscal year. She says the district will struggle to repay the money and will have to cut back on use of electricity, gas and the purchasing of supplies.
“We’re already cutting back; we’re just going to have to cut back more,” Marquez said. “We’re just going to have to skim off the top of everything. There’s nothing we can really cut.”
Portales passed a $21.5 million school budget for next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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