Idaho Lottery officials say school districts and public buildings hit a record jackpot this year with $33 million in profits from ticket sales.
The dividend announced today is split evenly between Idaho's public schools and the state's Permanent Building Fund. It's the third straight year of record-setting dividends for the state-sanctioned gambling program.
Sales during the fiscal year that ends Friday were $131 million, up 16 percent from last year.
The biggest money maker for the Idaho Lottery are scratch tickets, which made up 61 percent of sales. Powerball ticket sales in Idaho jumped 50 percent this year, thanks to 11 jackpots of at least $100 million.
School districts use the money to pay for a variety of needs, from building construction and paying back loans to new computers, gyms, and auditoriums.
But there's a big change this year, and lottery checks will have limits once they are distributed to school districts. For children, the differences they'll notice inside the classroom will vary.
"It's an important thing for us. It's almost a million dollars to us. In the last couple years it's been in the $900,000 range," said Meridian School District Assistant Superintendent Bruce Gestrin.
Meridian has traditionally used its share of lottery money to pay for building construction, but Gestrin said they will resort to their planned facilities levy.
The Legislature decided recently the bulk, if not all, lottery money be used first to pay for school maintenance necessities like painting, fixing leaky roofs, and new carpet. The Dept. Of Education and other organizations representing the state's superintendents say it is "very" unlikely there will be money left to pay for non-maintenance costs, such as: remodels, new facilities, tech labs, and school buses.
This year, Boise School District used its $880,000 share of the lottery dividend to fix carpets and paint schools around its district.
"Certainly those funds are being used in a manner that is effective for children," said Boise School District spokesperson Dan Hollar. "Lottery funds allow us to free up money used in the classroom."