Powerball lotteries net mega revenue for schools?

I think everyone has wondered where lottery profits go. Those gains don’t seem to go to our schools. Maybe our School Board should be buying tickets every week in hopes of evening out the game.

Early morning on Saturday was the only time my step-brother and sisters and me would run to the front porch, sling open the door, lift the faded aluminum box to find the once a week treat – a half gallon of chocolate milk. There was white milk in the box as well, but we were not concerned with that, only the chocolate. The bottles were covered with condensate as the humidity was drawn to the glass containers. It was a family rule and a perceived aggravation to drag the white milk and sometimes a dozen or two of eggs to the Frigidaire with chocolate milk.

Getting to the chocolate milk first was like winning lottery. I still don’t know why it was such an honor to carry that particular glass bottle through the carpet-coverd living room and dining room into the kitchen. Yes, it ended up in the refrigerator but not before the paper wrapper and cardboard plug was removed and our glasses were filled. Only half was left when the milk was chilled. The rest of the chocolate milk was gone by Sunday and it was another week before the next half-gallon was delivered to our milk box by the milkman we never saw.

However, I do remember seeing and meeting “Joe the drycleaner” who made his rounds in our neighborhood a couple of times a week. My mother would chat with Joe on the porch as I listened intently from my place on the porch steps. Gossip from other parts of the neighborhood and Joe’s route was exchanged. Finally the clean plastic covered laundry was handed over.

Then each afternoon a bus arrived in our neighborhood, which was not urban or suburban, but a neighborhood, but a little community of about 50 or 60 homes in the country. The bus was named Jonesy’s grocery; a thirty-foot grocery store on wheels. Jonesy had just about anything you might expect to find in a convenience store, from bread, milk, all staples and for we who were interested in baseball cards, a shelf dedicated to Topps cards for 10 cents per pack with five ball cards and a sheet of powder covered chewing gum – talk about a lottery, a Ty Cobb card would be a major win. Shelves of candy surrounded the packs of cards as you entered the store/bus. Above the driver were racks of short shelves supposedly for adults only – cigarettes.

It was exciting to see Jonesy arriving on summer afternoons. Mom might send a list of items to buy from Jonesy’s rolling store. A pack of Camel non-filters, a loaf of Wonder bread and, if I was lucky, a pack of Topps or an ice cream drumstick.

When summer breathed its last feverish breath, school became the next enterprise. Jonesy’s bus full of groceries, while continuing to deliver in early afternoon, was one thing I missed about summer. School started and I rode another bus – the big yellow taxi.

My school had a pupil-to-teacher ratio (PTR) of about one to 24. I remember that because in fifth grade, 12 in my grade level shared the class with 12 fourth graders. I don’t remember there being a budget problem just a shortage of students.

How did they keep the budget in line? Did my parents pay more in taxes? Did the school division keep expenses low? I don’t remember my mother complaining about buying supplies or paying a school tax, but then I was 10.

Reminiscing with Linda on the screened porch the other night, we checked our $1 lottery ticket. We lost. But it brought up the typical question many people think off when they’ve had children in school. Where does that lottery money go? It is suppose to fund schools. It deserved a Google.

The official Virginia Lottery website told the story:

“In Fiscal Year 2012, the Virginia Lottery had sales of more than $1.6 billion. Of this total, the Lottery generated a record $487.1 million, or 30.1 percent, for public education grades K-12; 59.9 percent went back to players in the form of prizes; 5.6 percent went to the retailers who sell Virginia Lottery tickets, and 4.8 percent went to operational expenses.”

In the lottery fiscal year 2012, Chesterfield’s share of the pot was $12,068,584. Yes, $12 million. The Chesterfield County Public Schools division lists $220.9 million or 41 percent of its $533 million budget as coming from the state. So the  lottery contributes only about 5 percent of Virginia’s Lottery profits to CCPS.

I thought it would be a lot more. It’s about as much as the amount that goes for lottery administration costs. Seems to me education ought to be getting a little more. After all, only 2.5 cents out of my $1 lottery ticket went to CCPS schools. Next time I win a $10 on a scratcher, I’ll toss a quarter to CCPS. In fact I’ll double it. Let’s see you match that Virginia Lottery.

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