HomeTop StoriesProponents question how lottery money is spent in California schools

Proponents question how lottery money is spent in California schools

SACRAMENTO — Massive jackpots and record lottery sales don’t translate to California classrooms, according to education advocates.

The lottery is a multi-billion dollar industry that prides itself on partially funding public education. However, Nikki Milevsky, the president of the Sacramento City Teachers Association, questions how the money is being used.

“I know if you ask the average teacher, ‘What are the lottery funds doing for your class?’ The average teacher in Sacramento City certainly can’t say where that money is going,” Milevsky said. “So we don’t see it, it’s somehow being spent at the county office.”

Over the past 30 years or so, $39 billion dollars has been invested in public schools, with the SCTA saying about $8-$9 million in lottery money has been allocated to their district budget.

“Ultimately it’s only about 1% of the district’s total budget. Some of that money is expected to be spent on instructional materials,” Milevsky said. “As for the rest of the money, we’re not entirely sure what it will ultimately be spent on.”

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We’ve reached out to the district for a breakdown of how the money is being allocated to Sacramento City Schools, but haven’t heard back.

In November 1984, California voters passed Proposition 37 with the goal of funding public education without raising taxes. In 2000, Proposition 20 further restricted how that money could be spent – only listing non-educational materials.

State law did define how it cannot be spent: funds cannot be allocated “for the acquisition of real estate, the construction of facilities, the funding of research, or any other non-educational material.”

Because there is no clear indication of where the money can be spent, districts have the discretion to determine where it is needed at their discretion.

“It’s somewhat difficult to track it through a district’s budget, even for those who pay close attention to a district’s budget,” Milevsky said.

SCTA says that regardless of the funding allocated by the lottery, more resources and investment should be made in teachers and the public education system.

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“It is very important that we properly fund our public education and lottery is just a small dribble that does not solve the whole problem,” Milevsky said.

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