Schools might get more Lotto money |

Schools might get more Lotto money

Ever wonder where your money goes when you buy lottery tickets?

If Proposition 20 passes, a greater amount of California State Lottery revenues will go toward public education for the purchase of instructional materials.

The California’s legislative analyst estimated that the 1999-’00 allocation to public education will be $867 million. This means a significant increase in funds from fiscal year 1997-’98, in which schools were given $780 million in lottery monies.

Under Proposition 20, fiscal year 1997-’98 will be used as a “base year,” making the difference in base year funds and 1999-’00 funds $87 million.

If Proposition 20 is passed, half of the difference ($43.5 million), will go to K-through-14 public education and must be spent on instructional materials.

So what would this mean to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District?

According to LTUSD Chief Financial Officer Joe White, Proposition 20 will bring about negative results.

“It puts a string on lottery dollars,” White said. “And any strings on any money right now is to our detriment. And it kind of takes away local control and how we want to spend it.”

Lottery money is allocated based on average daily attendance, which means the more students, the more money.

“In the past when we’ve had growth, we’d get more money and we could do what we wanted with it,” White said. “If there was a need for something, we could spend out of the lottery money.”

Currently, LTUSD is receiving $628,000 from lottery revenues, but according to White, as student population decreases, so does the money.

“It keeps going down because it’s based on per pupil,” White said. “We get $120 per pupil, or something close to that.”

Without restrictions, the money has gone to pay for several different things over the years.

“There is a ton of categories where it has been spent,” said White, listing P.E. specialists as an example of instructors funded out of lottery monies.

“We used to maintain a reserve from that money too. We never knew how consistent lotto money would be so we maintained a $200,000 reserve,” he added.

That reserve has been wiped out, according to White, who said limiting how lottery money can be spent will only make matters worse.

In a statement made in favor of Proposition 20, California State Assemblymembers Tony Cardenas (39th District) and Nell Soto (61st District) said that California is currently ranked 47 out of 50 states in per pupil textbook spending.

It’s likely that such statistics are more representative of bigger schools.

“The biggest problem (with Proposition 20) is that it restricts dollars to go to text books and we already get a lot of funding for text books,” White said.

And though those in favor of Proposition 20 say a yes vote will allow schools to continue to fund everything that they fund now and maintain local control, White disagrees.

“In my estimation, it (Proposition 20) is taking away freedom from us, and from the board, since ultimately it is the board who decides where money goes.”

According to board member Stacy Romagnolo, the board has not discussed Proposition 20.

LTUSD School Board President Wendy David said she feels Proposition 20 takes away local control.

“The board doesn’t typically come out endorsing or not endorsing something, but on a personal level I’d have to agree with Joe (White),” David said. “It takes power away from the locally elected board.”

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