07/02/10 — Lottery will bring $1.5 million for schools in Wayne

View Archive

Lottery will bring $1.5 million for schools in Wayne

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 2, 2010 1:46 PM

Wayne County Public Schools will receive roughly $1.3 million less in state lottery fund allocations for 2010-11 in the budget just passed by the General Assembly.

But while the funds would be reduced, counties would not be limited to using them on capital building projects, the original intent for lottery proceeds. A school board could request the monies be spent for classroom teachers.

The budget calls for lottery receipts to be allocated on a per-pupil basis instead of by the statutory formula that provides additional funding to those counties with effective tax rates that exceed the statewide average.

Under the spending plan, Wayne County would receive $1,533,146 compared to $2,871,955 it would get through the statutory formula -- $1,338,809 less.

Wayne County Board of Education Rick Pridgen said while the reduction concerns him, he likes the idea of being able to use lottery funds for classroom teachers.

"It would be nice to have that flexibility," Pridgen said. "What school system wouldn't want it?"

Lottery funds used for classroom teachers cannot supplant existing local current expense funding.

The flexibility to utilize lottery funds for classroom teachers was included in both the House and Senate budget proposals.

While the Senate plan appropriated the full share of county lottery funds, estimated at $176.5 million, the House spending proposal reduced the total to $130 million.

Budget conferees settled on even less, $113 million -- a reduction of $63.5 million -- and directed that the funds be used for classroom teachers and college scholarships.

If net lottery revenues exceed the total appropriated level, any excess receipts will be allocated to school capital on a per-pupil basis.

Pridgen noted that the roughly $2 million the county could expect to receive annually would not be enough to build a middle school much less a high school. That could only be done by saving the lottery funds over a period of years, he said.

It was only because the county had a facilities plan in place that it was able to draw down some $5 million in lottery funds last year, he said.

"We beat it by about a week and a half," he said. "A lot of counties had to turn money back to the state."

The county is using those funds for renovations at several schools.