The Muskogee, Okla., School District owes the state more than $3.5 million because a software program inflated the district’s enrollment figures and caused the state to overpay the district for two years, officials said Jan. 19.

Two state officials sent to Muskogee to study the problem told the state Education Board that the district owes the state more than $3.5 million. Harriot La Grone, director of aid for the state Education Department, said the district’s administrative software counted students who started after the first day of school as being there the entire year, without district officials’ knowledge.

The inflated attendance and enrollment figures were sent to the state, causing the state to pay the district more money than it was entitled to receive. State aid is based on average daily enrollment or membership.

The state overpaid Muskogee nearly $1.7 million in 1997 and nearly $1.9 million in 1998. State Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett suggested the district repay the money over several years to avoid a funding crisis.