Follow the lotto: How Cumberland schools spend education lottery money

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The big winner in Tuesday night's record-setting Mega Millions jackpot could be North Carolina schools.

About 30 percent of lottery revenue is allocated to educational spending, but the big question is "What do schools do with all that money?"

We took that question straight to Cumberland County Schools, which said it makes good use of what they do receive.

"Proceeds from the NC Lottery support school construction," Lindsay Whitley said. "For example, during the 2017-2018 school year, we received about $3.4 million."

This week, the Cumberland County school district is requesting $1.3 million from the lottery fund to pay for the construction of Gray's Creek Middle School.

It's not new construction, rather the bill stems from the 2009 construction of the school.

Originally, the county government took on the cost. So essentially, the school district is signing the lottery check over to the county.

"We actually don't even receive the funds over here in Cumberland County Schools," said Whitley. "We're basically, through the application process, saying we're in agreement to send the funds to Cumberland County."

The lottery fund checks construction off the debt list but still leaves big items such as technology upgrades in question.

State law doesn't allow schools to use lottery money for technology but there are other options.

"We receive support from lottery funds to help do those things; however, those funds go directly to the state and we receive our typical state allotment each year," he said.

While the money you spend on a ticket might not go directly to schools, it keeps counties and school systems from going into the red which then keeps your taxes from going up.
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