Online search uncovers stash of cash for schools

NEISD has $27,000 in state's unclaimed property account

money

SAN ANTONIO - Just one robot for the Matthey Middle School robotics class can run more than $200, precious dollars in the Southside Independent School District.

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They will soon be able to afford a few more if that's how they choose to use $1,000 in newly found money.

A search of the state's unclaimed property database at www.claimittexas.org turned up tens of thousands of dollars for area schools and school districts, including $1,000 for Southside Middle School, Matthey's former name.

"There's a lot of things Matthey Middle School can do with a thousand dollars," Principal Michelle Hickman said when KSAT 12 News told her about the unclaimed funds.

An extensive search uncovered a stash a cash just waiting to be claimed, including $27,000 for North East ISD; $3,350 for Edgewood ISD; $2,360 for SAISD; $2,270 for Judson ISD; $5,000 for Schertz Cibolo Universal City ISD, and $7,000 for South San ISD.

It was money most had no idea even existed. SCUCISD indicated they had claimed its money, but it was still listed with the state.

The state has nearly $3 billion in unclaimed property, much of it forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, deposits or refunds that, for a variety of reasons -- including a wrong address -- were never delivered.

Unclaimed funds for the schools come from a variety of sources, including banks, insurance companies and businesses like Frito Lay, Coca Cola and Lifetouch Studios, which takes school pictures.

Roan Forest Elementary has $2,778 in the unclaimed funds, a 2006 payment from Reader's Digest.  

Memorial High School has $750 from the College Entrance Exam Board. 

Reagan High School has $862 from St. Mary's University from 2009.   

Some payments to schools and district go as far back as 1986.

The largest single amount is $5,000 for NEISD from Falcon Int'l Bank.

"We've done some investigating, and it appears that is from a commission from some yearbook sales," said NEISD spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor. "Many of these checks, from what we can tell, were commissions from maybe magazine or book sales or vending machines."

Because they were commissions, they were not scheduled or expected payments, she explained.

NEISD has taken the first step to claim its $27,000 -- money that would likely go into the general fund, according to Chancellor.

The state website showed South San ISD having 96 unclaimed bundles of cash totaling $7,000. Many of those are insurance annuities, so the district planned to find out if those funds rightfully belonged to the district.

"We're appreciative that you would bring it to our attention," said Ed Suarez, South San ISD spokesman. "You could use that money for tutoring, or use that money to send the kids on educational field trips."

Many individual school campuses have unclaimed funds. 

Some of those are: $1,029 for South San High School; $468 for Ed White Middle School; $500 for Rawlinson Middle School; $571 for Alamo Heights ISD; $750 for Brackenridge High School; $249 for Hidden Forest Elementary School; $177 for Bradley Middle School; $205 for Lopez Middle School and $837 for Southside High School.

Tips for searching www.claimittexas.org:

The exact name matters, so try variations.  For example, North East ISD had unclaimed money listed under NEISD, N E I S D, Northeast ISD, North East ISD, North East Independent School District. Another example: White Middle School, Ed  White Middle School, White MS.

Try searching without the city typed in. Entering the city limits the results and one may be missed. Such was the case with NEISD.

Search every year. The state enters new claims nearly every day.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.

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