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San Diego Unified is still unsure whether it will be asked to repay more than $3 million in federal funds. The district’s Audit and Finance Committee held a meeting today to discuss a federal Department of Education audit that criticized the expenditure of more than $3 million in federal funds to pay for a one-time retirement incentive package for school staff. Interim Superintendent Bill Kowba said San Diego Unified likely wouldn’t learn whether it has to repay the $3 million in question until late spring.

I wrote about the audit earlier this month, after the federal Department of Education finalized it. The federal department disagrees with the California Department of Education, which has argued that San Diego Unified did not need permission to charge federal programs for the retirement bonuses. Fringe benefits such as Social Security and healthcare are routinely charged to the special programs school staff serves.

Dan McAllister, chairman of the school district’s audit and finance committee, said the meeting was held in the name of “transparency and openness,” to “get all the facts and figures out on the table.” But David Page, a parent who leads the district committee that oversees the use of Title 1, one of the federal funds affected, said he still had major questions about the district’s actions.

The committee’s next meeting is March 7.

EMILY ALPERT

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