12/21/06 — Lottery results: Money is in, but will it be used responsibly? We will see

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Lottery results: Money is in, but will it be used responsibly? We will see

At long last, the official numbers are in — $63 million has been distributed by the North Carolina Education Lottery from the schools’ percentage of the more than $229 million spent on gaming during the first months of the lottery’s existence.

The money that has been released to date is only the beginning — covering the schools’ share of the proceeds from only the first three months. The audit of the gross profits includes Aug. 31, 2005, through June of this year, which means districts can expect more checks soon.

And with those kinds of numbers, North Carolina residents should expect to see a whole lot more money coming this way.

So, now we know the numbers — and in some cases, we even know what the state’s school districts would like to spend the money on — buildings.

The next step is a little more complicated — developing a blueprint of sorts for the future of the funds and a realistic look at what kind of market the state can expect in future years for the games.

Do we want a scholarship fund for North Carolina students? How should the money be earmarked for schools? Should poor schools get the bulk of the funds? Should the state set more strict or less defined priorities for spending the funds — both now and in the future?

All those are good questions and important considerations as the lottery continues to develop. It is obvious this is going to be a bit of a windfall for the state’s schools. Now, all we have to do is make sure we use it right.

Planning is the key to making that happen.

Published in Editorials on December 21, 2006 11:23 AM