Lee Schools share of lotto money 'drop in bucket?'
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CAPE CORAL - You might have been one of the millions who bought a ticket for Wednesday's $550 million Powerball thinking the money is going to the state education fund. But just how far does that money go with our local school districts?
"It doesn't quite scratch the surface, actually," said Lee County School Board Chair Mary Fischer.
The Florida Lottery is quick to point out that they have given billions of dollars to support education statewide.
But the Lee County School District is taking a public swipe at the lotto.
"Lottery fever is here," the district tweeted Wednesday, "did you know last year, lottery $ only enough to run LCPS for 1.5 days?"
In the district's budget they wrote: "The lottery has very limited effects on funding for K-12 education."
"In FY12 the lottery funds received by our district," the budget says, "is enough to run our district for less than a day and a half."
Thirty percent of lottery sales are put into the state's Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which divvied up by the state legislature.
The money the district gets from the lotto goes towards funding programs, equipment and bonuses for teachers at high performing schools, according to Fischer.
"We do appreciate the amount that we do get because it is something," said Fischer. "But, as we said, it only helps us for about a day-and-a-half."
According to the district's budget, they will get $4.6 million from the Florida Lottery. Fischer says it costs $3.3 million a day to run the district.
"From our perspective," said Fischer, "it's a small drop in the bucket."
"I can understand what the board is saying," said David Bishop with the Florida Lottery. "However, there's a bigger picture in play here."
Lottery officials say they collected $1.3 billion for education last year and more than $24 billion over the past 24 years.
The $550 million Powerball drawing raised $57 million for the state's education fund, according to Bishop. He says that amount, and the $1.3 billion raised last year, is free money for local schools.
"Our job," said Bishop, "is to raise as much money for education as possible we don't decide how that money's spend."
"If it wasn't there," he said, "where would you get that extra $1.3 billion?"
But Fischer feels the money the district is getting isn't exactly a jackpot.
"They take in billions in sales," said Fischer. "Then by the time it's distributed statewide, the amount per district is rather small."
The Lee County School District also tweeted: "Every little bit helps, and Lottery $ is appreciated to help with LCPS yearly budget!"
Lottery officials say the money goes towards Bright Futures college scholarships, bonds for building schools and reducing class sizes statewide.