10/22/06 — Wayne will get $1.9 million from lottery

View Archive

Wayne will get $1.9 million from lottery

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on October 22, 2006 2:11 AM

Wayne County will receive about $653,000 as part of a first quarter distribution of funds from the North Carolina Education Lottery that could total close to $2.8 million by year's end, officials said Friday.

In addition to the first designation to the public schools, which is earmarked for facilities improvements, the county is also expected to receive about $1.3 million from lottery funds for The Partnership for Children of Wayne County's More at Four program, said Alice Garland of the North Carolina Lottery.

More at Four is a state-funded pre-kindergarten program designed to prepare at-risk 4-year-olds for success in school. Local Partnership for Children officials said they have not yet received notification of the allocation.

The first quarterly transfer to the Education Lottery Fund was expected to split $95 million among the state's 100 counties. Earlier this year, lottery officials set aside $50 million in a reserve account.

Thursday's transfer equals 35.6 percent of $233.1 million in lottery sales since July 1 and another $12 million generated before that date.

Wayne County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Taylor said the district was notified of the lottery distribution late last week.

He said $652,872 was deposited into the school system's accounts. That first round money is part of a projected $2.8 million the district should receive this year.

"Certainly we're grateful for every dollar we receive and we'll put it to good use," Taylor said Friday afternoon.

As to how the money will be designated, Taylor would not speculate.

"We don't know at this point. We're in the middle of the facilities plan and certainly the lottery funding will be looked as a revenue source for future needs," he said. "How it will be used is yet to be decided."

The Wayne County Board of Education and Board of Commissioners have been working for the last year to determine the county's school needs and how to pay for those projects.

The school board created a five-year, $90 million facilities plan and has joined the commissioners in six public forums at local high schools to discuss the plan with residents and to hear their concerns. Smaller committees are now tasked with determining any changes to educational policies, where to build new schools and how to finance the plan's proposed school construction costs.

The two boards have discussed many ways to pay for new or improved facilities, including a bond referendum next May.

Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, who announced the lottery distribution Friday, said the county could borrow against the money it is slated to receive. The process, a certificate of participation, was used to fund an addition to the county courthouse.

But before they can determine how the money will be spent, county and school officials must hear the rules for how the funds will be distributed.

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said he and other county officials assumed the school system would receive about $1.9 million in the first quarter, but the state didn't tell local officials if the schools or the county would oversee the distribution of the funds.

"If we get a check, I guess we'll have to figure it out," he said.