Schools hope to hit thejackpot with new lottery | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Schools hope to hit thejackpot with new lottery

William Ferchland
Source: 2005-06 LTUSD budget
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This upcoming school year, $655,914 in lottery money will be given to Lake Tahoe Unified School District for counseling purposes and instructional supplies.

With last month’s introduction of Mega Millions lottery game, which could offer winnings of a half-billion dollars, last month and Superintendent James Tarwater’s pledge to increase attendance, the district could see its own future jackpot.

“They’re saying this will produce a lot of money,” Tarwater said.

It all depends how many people buy tickets in both the Mega Millions and California Lotto games since California schools receive 34 cents to every dollar ticket purchase. While Tarwater believes the amount of money per student will grow with the introduction of the new game, it will still amount to a small percentage of the district’s budget.

Lottery spokeswoman Catherine Doyle Johnston anticipates annual sales for Mega Millions to reach somewhere between $300 to $500 million. It adds up to an additional $102 million to $170 million in school funding.

According to the district’s 2005-06 budget adopted last week, the $655,914 represents 2 percent of total income.

The amount of lottery income is tied to funding for Average Daily Attendance, which the state gives money to districts for how many students are in desks at a given time.

It’s why enrollment numbers differ with ADA figures. It’s also why Tarwater wants to increase attendance rates.

This upcoming school year, enrollment is projected at 4,541 students. Average Daily Attendance is 4,426 students but is calculated from the previous year.

Lottery income has been a roller coaster for the district with a high of $176 per ADA in the 1988-89 school year. Three years later, it dropped to a low of $77 per ADA.

“Since the income is not consistent, the expenditures have also varied widely,” the budget report stated on “Lottery Income and its History.”

Lottery funds are broken down into unrestricted and restricted designations. Unrestricted money allows the district complete discretion on how to spend the funds while restricted dollars are meant for specific purposes, such as instructional books and supplies.

California school districts, for the upcoming school year, are expected to receive $138 in ADA money, with $21 reserved for specific purposes.

California became the 12th state to offer the Mega Millions lottery game on June 22. Last week the jackpot was estimated at $63 million, which was the largest jackpot in the nation, according to a press release by the California Lottery.

But since the state lottery gives $1 billion to education, an additional $100 million or so is relatively small but still nice, Doyle Johnston said.

“The more money for schools the better,” she said.

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