Jan. 15, 2006 — The U.S. Virgin Islands has again, for the third year running, received the dubious distinction of sending more unused federal education funds back to Washington, per student, than any other U. S. jurisdiction.
On average, U.S. states and territories sent back $1.73 per pupil to the federal government.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Virgin Islands sent back $112.24 per pupil, or a total of $2,132,508.
This means the V.I. Department of Education sent back to Washington about 65 times as much as the average U.S. jurisdiction.
The U.S. Department of Education has detailed data on the return of funds unused over the three-year period ending Sept. 30, 2005. The information shown above is a matter of public record.
Juel Anderson, spokesperson for the V.I. DOE, said that the federal statistics quoted above and provided to her by the Source have been forwarded to the commissioner. She added that the department had no other comment to make at this time.
Are there too many kids in V.I. classrooms? Apparently not, for nearly $516,000 in Class Size Reduction Program funds were sent back to the federal government.
Are handicapped kids in the islands getting appropriate training? They must be, otherwise $703,409 in Special Education Program funds wouldn't have reverted to the U.S. Treasury.
It should be noted that these were not matching grants — no island tax money needed to be spent to secure these funds.
Nor were these competitive grants. No jurisdiction had to write a prize-winning proposal to secure the funds. All the V.I. DOE had to do was to spend the money in an appropriate manner, at the appropriate time.
The $2.1 million sent back to Washington last year could not have been used to cut the costs of the territory's school system. However, the funds could have provided $2.1 million worth of services to the islands' students — had the appropriate procedures for getting and using the money been followed.
Although the U.S. Virgin Islands was far and away the jurisdiction that sent back the most per student, the total amount relinquished to Washington is lower than it was a year ago ($2.89 million). However, this year's figure is higher than two years ago ($2.03 million).
That's a three-year total of more than $7 million.
More than 93 percent of the unused federal funds were the responsibility of the V.I. Department of Education, with the balance of unused money being accounted for by other territorial agencies. The governor's office sent back $8,602 in anti-drug funds; the Department of Human Services did not use $34,166 in three vocational rehabilitation programs; and the Department of Health failed to use $102,004 in a grant program for infants and children.
The V.I. Department of Education, according to its federal counterpart, reverted money in five programs, two of which have been noted above.
The other programs, and the amounts of money returned, were:
— Systemic Improvement of State and Local Education, Goals 2000, $500,127;
— Enhancing Education through Technology (i.e. buying computers and software), $243,860; and
— the all-purpose Consolidated Grants to Insular Areas, $24,480.
Coming in a distant second in this dubious race this year was Guam, which sent back $54.45 per pupil in unused education funds.
Yet another island territory, not known as a model of efficient government, American Samoa, managed to use all but $1.70 per pupil in the period ending Sept. 30, 2005 — roughly equivalent to the U.S. national average for unused funds.
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