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Florida Lottery education spending investigated

Florida LotteryFlorida Lottery: Florida Lottery education spending investigated

Lottery money still invested in education, but targeted differently than it used to be

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Lottery education dollars that used to go mainly to K-12 education are now being spread into several different educational initiatives, raising the ire of local Superintendents, but pleasing those who feel that education spending should be more diverse. 

Nearby 4 billion dollars was spent on the Florida Lottery last year. It's money lawmakers promised would go to education. But according to information from the Department of Education and Duval County Public Schools, Duval County schools received less than three dollars per student.

The lottery was approved by voters back in 1986. The major selling point for the bill was that the gambling dollars would go right into our classrooms, but the fact is, that's not entirely true.

"Voters were sold on it as being an enhancement for education, and that's not what it turned out to be?" a WTEV reporter asked Duval County Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals.

Pratt-Dannals: "Absolutely, it has not."

Superintendent Pratt-Dannals, who has worked in the Duval County School District since the 1970's, remembers when the lottery money started rolling in. At one point Duval County received more than $32 million dollars in discretionary money from the lottery. That's money the county could use where it was needed the most.

But fast forward to last year, when the district, which has 125,000 students, received $370,404 dollars in discretionary money. That breaks down to just $2.96 cents per student.

WTEV spoke with Governor Rick Scott, and asked the Governor about how lottery dollars are used. "Would you support pushing lawmakers into putting more lottery money into K-12?"

Governor Scott has proposed a Billion dollar increase in education this year, and he wants lawmakers to help boost lottery sales to help pay for it.

We asked if that was the best use of Florida's lottery dollars. According to the Governor, "The Florida Lottery money should go to education and it does go to education."

But parents and lawmakers may disagree on what "education" really means. By law, the first lottery money payout goes to Bright Futures, a merit based scholarship program that wasn't around when the lottery was first passed. In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, that meant 26 percent of $1.2 billion in lottery money.

Community Colleges and Universities took 28 percent and two percent went to "other financial aid." That left 44 percent for K-12. That sounds like a lot, but most of that money was earmarked for very specific programs such as the class size amendment, capitol projects, and recognition programs. The means the actual spending money that counties get is a fraction of what it used to be.

In Duval County, even with the Governor's proposed budget increase, the district is looking at another $50 million dollar shortfall this year.

Superintendent Pratt-Dannals does not feel that lawmakers are making the right decisions about where lottery money goes. "I think it should go where it was originally intended, that is discretionary funding for school districts."

Trey Csar, with the non-profit Jacksonville Public Education Fund, agrees. "The politicians we elect have to decide what takes priority in terms of learning resources. K-12 is where it begins and it's up to elected officials to make that call."

State Senator John Thrasher voted for the Florida Lottery, even though he doesn't play. He too, believed the money would be used to enhance our classrooms. "We'd all like to increase discretional money, but I think it starts with having enough money in general revenue."

Over the years, lawmakers have funneled lottery money into programs that weren't around when the lottery was passed. Now, the only way to get counties more discretionary money is to take it from somewhere else. Senator Thrasher says, "Can we provide more flexible money in these tough economic times, to use where they have more discretion, absolutely I would be in favor of that and we are working on that."

Several lawmakers, along with local school leaders, have discussed temporarily suspending the School Recognition Program. It awards money to the state's top performing schools. Last year it meant $4.3 million dollars for Duval County. By temporarily suspending the program, counties could use the money where it's needed the most. But Governor Rick Scott said that he would not support that move, saying top performing schools should be rewarded and their success be used as an example for struggling schools.

Thanks to lottoballz for the tip.

WTEV, Lottery Post Staff

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31 comments. Last comment 2 years ago by rdgrnr.
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Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
Chief Bottle Washer
New Jersey
United States
Member #1
May 31, 2000
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Posted: February 7, 2012, 10:05 am - IP Logged

What do you think?  Should lottery money be 100% poured into K-12 education, or should it be spent in a more diverse way, like various scholarships, rewards, and community colleges, in addition to K-12?

 

Check the State Lottery Report Card
What grade did your lottery earn?

 

Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
Help eliminate computerized drawings!

    OldSchoolPa's avatar - Lottery-057.jpg
    Gurnee, Illinois
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    February 12, 2007
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    Posted: February 7, 2012, 10:21 am - IP Logged

    What do you think?  Should lottery money be 100% poured into K-12 education, or should it be spent in a more diverse way, like various scholarships, rewards, and community colleges, in addition to K-12?

    I agree with the current allocation.  Sure K-12 is important, but I would say funding for scholarships, rewards, and community colleges is just as important.  I am also suspect about the utilization of discretionary funds in any government setting as there are plentiful stories of discretionary funds not being spent in appropriate ways, or just outright fraudulent ways.  And this targeted budgeting is unlike earmarks in that those education entities are enduring whereas many earmark projects are temporal. 

    This guy bellyaching about the paltry discretionary  funding needs to get out and visit businesses that are having to make tough decisions about their operations in light of current credit crunch...or visit families having to make tough decisions about which bill to pay this month...and just be happy with what he has and make the best use of it.

    Get MONEY!!! Winning a JACKPOT lottery is all the HOPE and CHANGE I desire!!!  NOW give me MONEY!US Flag

    The guy who won the presidency in 2008 really won the lottery...he is now millions richer, travels in first class style, and even has a staff that would be the envy of the richest Powerball winner (she has a staff of 2). Every night he goes to sleep, he probably plays the close of Dave Chappelle's Show: I'm rich beyatch!

      Technics's avatar - 1560691 10152025596101378_204596622_n.
      USA
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      Posted: February 7, 2012, 10:25 am - IP Logged

      I think lots of that money goes to the states pet projects instead of education....its clear in many states that this is common practice. there is no agency to police the lottery so they are almost free to allocate funds to whatever cause they like.

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        Monkey Butt, USA
        United States
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        August 23, 2007
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        Posted: February 7, 2012, 10:28 am - IP Logged

        What do you think?  Should lottery money be 100% poured into K-12 education, or should it be spent in a more diverse way, like various scholarships, rewards, and community colleges, in addition to K-12?

        Poured into K-12 education and scholarships for college bound highschool graduates.


          United States
          Member #111446
          May 25, 2011
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          Posted: February 7, 2012, 10:36 am - IP Logged

          What do you think?  Should lottery money be 100% poured into K-12 education, or should it be spent in a more diverse way, like various scholarships, rewards, and community colleges, in addition to K-12?

          First off, no matter what decision is made someone will not be happy. Having said that I believe there should be the option for flexibility in the discretionary spending of Florida's lotto funds. Political and educational climates are always changing, and there should be powers in place which allow changes in the direction of funds as deemed appropriate for a particular contingent.

           

          If everything is in concrete, these changing situations cannot be addressed. Try common sense as well.

            Avatar
            New Member

            United States
            Member #113304
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            Posted: February 7, 2012, 11:13 am - IP Logged

            Education spending could be 100% of the budget of the entire state government and the kids will NOT come out any better! There's never enough according to the "authorities"! And accountability is next to none. The more money you give government for Education, the less intelligent most kids will be when they graduate, if they do graduate.


              United States
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              Posted: February 7, 2012, 11:18 am - IP Logged

              Education spending could be 100% of the budget of the entire state government and the kids will NOT come out any better! There's never enough according to the "authorities"! And accountability is next to none. The more money you give government for Education, the less intelligent most kids will be when they graduate, if they do graduate.

              Good point Lottery Playa.

               Just Throwing gob's of money at problems doesn't alway's guarantee a solution.   Idea

                Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                S.E.Iowa
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                December 21, 2011
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                Posted: February 7, 2012, 12:15 pm - IP Logged

                Put the money into K-12 schools.If a person wants more education,let them pay for it themselves.They'll appreciate that education more if they have to foot the entire bill for it.

                When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

                There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

                  Todd's avatar - Cylon 2.gif
                  Chief Bottle Washer
                  New Jersey
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                  Posted: February 7, 2012, 12:21 pm - IP Logged

                  Wow, lots of really great points made here.  I wish politicians would make substantive points like these, rather than throwing out one-liners and talking points.

                   

                  Check the State Lottery Report Card
                  What grade did your lottery earn?

                   

                  Sign the Petition for True Lottery Drawings
                  Help eliminate computerized drawings!

                    Cletu$2's avatar - Lottery-050.jpg
                    S.E.Iowa
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                    Posted: February 7, 2012, 12:27 pm - IP Logged

                    Wow, lots of really great points made here.  I wish politicians would make substantive points like these, rather than throwing out one-liners and talking points.

                    Wish in one hand, s%#t in the other hand...see which hand fills up first~;)

                    When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it. ~Clarence Darrow

                    There ought to be one day - just one - when there is open season on senators. ~Will Rogers

                      New York's avatar - 103h4yr
                      NYC
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                      Posted: February 7, 2012, 12:33 pm - IP Logged

                      What do you think?  Should lottery money be 100% poured into K-12 education, or should it be spent in a more diverse way, like various scholarships, rewards, and community colleges, in addition to K-12?

                      Honestly, keep the money 100% for grades K-12. Spending it in a more diverse way (scholarships, community colleges, etc) divides the money more, in my opinion. I really am undecided but thankfully there's an investigation going on.. how the education money is being spent.  Besides some of the public schools really need that money.

                       

                      Community colleges and scholarships already get paid for by government and other sources.

                        CDanaT's avatar - tiger avatar_04_hd_pictures_169016.jpg
                        TX
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                        Posted: February 7, 2012, 1:31 pm - IP Logged

                        Being a Florida resident and having offspring in school, I have come to a few different conclusions about this "more diverse way" of spending theory... I have seen the bonuses teachers get from their grades doing well on the FCAT, but I have also seen the schools that continue to get rated with an F when it comes to FCAT as well. They took the principal from the elementary school where my "monsters" went and put that person into a failing school several years ago....That Principal was able to only bring that school up to a D ranking at best after significant years elapsed....Look at the billions spent on education since the 60s and how much of an increase have test scores gone up throughout the nation ?   Very little from the articles I have researched.. The bottom line for me and my opinion is you can throw all the money in the world at education but until parents accept responsibility and make their kids study to get A & B grades, take a sincere interest in their education, very little would be done to improve the current standard.
                        How do I know this ??..last summer I took a course at a local college. My class was mixed with college kids, H.S kids(doing dual enrollment) and a few adults. We each had to read a paragraph out loud from the book that was course assigned. I listened to 3 diff H.S students read. The 1st did well but the 2nd and 3rd kid couldn't read for squat. I was looking at my book and thinking I was on the wrong page or chapter. After I spoke with my professor and she advised me it was the students from that area in the county that do badly on the FCAT because she had seen it over the last X number of years..... So all that money that FL residents and visitors have thrown into the education system has not done well in some areas surrounding where I reside. Has it done better in others ??  Unknown to me at this time..Could be...again, thats just my humble opinion based on personal observation.

                        Stay Positive, Believe and good things will come your way

                          Littleoldlady's avatar - basket
                          Clarksville
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                          Posted: February 7, 2012, 2:12 pm - IP Logged

                          I think the money should go to K-12 and some of it to the first two years of college.  The only problem I have is that I feel that NONE of the money should go to teacher salaries or bonuses.  It all should go to getting updated technology for the students, newer learning tools, laptops, new science equipment, scientific calculators, etc.  The schools could be updated maybe 10 at a time. and when all are finished, then the improvements should be maintained on a regular basis.  I have never understood why schools are not required to furnish the students with Ipads, laptops(if they don't ipads), ebook readers, etc.  If the US wants to improve student learning, they need to improve the tools students work with.  The old ways of learning are drab and tedious; the new student who is expected learn needs new tools for a new way of learning.

                          If you know your number is going to hit, have patience and then KILL IT!

                          You never know when you will get another hit.

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                            Monkey Butt, USA
                            United States
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                            August 23, 2007
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                            Posted: February 7, 2012, 2:52 pm - IP Logged

                            I think the money should go to K-12 and some of it to the first two years of college.  The only problem I have is that I feel that NONE of the money should go to teacher salaries or bonuses.  It all should go to getting updated technology for the students, newer learning tools, laptops, new science equipment, scientific calculators, etc.  The schools could be updated maybe 10 at a time. and when all are finished, then the improvements should be maintained on a regular basis.  I have never understood why schools are not required to furnish the students with Ipads, laptops(if they don't ipads), ebook readers, etc.  If the US wants to improve student learning, they need to improve the tools students work with.  The old ways of learning are drab and tedious; the new student who is expected learn needs new tools for a new way of learning.

                            I could not have said it better myself.

                            Bring the technology into the classrooms and teach the children the skills needed to enter into the workforce.

                            Help lower the unemployment rate by teaching the kids marketable skills while in school. Start job training in the  7th and 8th grade so when graduation roll around these kids will have some experience under their belts.