Sampson County’s public schools received nearly $1 million this year from the North Carolina Educationa Lottery, but the dollars never make it into school coffers. Instead the funds stop at Sampson County government, where the money is used for debt service on schools in Clinton City and Sampson County.
So far this year, the North Carolina Education Lottery has brought $456.7 million to the state, with a portion of those proceeds then being funneled to public schools. Sampson County and Clinton City Schools portion this year amounts to just over $803,000.
“We don’t touch it,” said Dale McLamb, finance director for Sampson County Schools of the lottery proceeds. “It all goes right to the county and they apply it for debt services … we don’t see it at all.”
Clyde Locklear, assistant superintendent for facilities and finance for Clinton City Schools, did not return repeated phone calls regarding that system’s portion.
However, county finance officer David K. Clack confirmed that this year Sampson County Schools was allotted $596,815 from the state and Clinton City Schools was allotted $206,856, all from lottery proceeds.
“The money that is allotted for both systems from the North Carolina Education Lottery goes directly to pay for debt services on the new schools,” Clack explained.
For Clinton City Schools, the allotted funds go to pay the USDA debt on Clinton High School, which has about 36 years remaining on the 40-year-loan. The system also has a Certificate of Participation (COP) on the school that is a 30-year loan.
For Sampson County Schools, the funds allocated pay USDA debt on Union and Midway high schools, both which have 38 more years on a 40-year loan. It also goes to Roseboro Elementary School, which has 39 years left on the 40-year loan.
Clack said the lottery funding for state school systems varies each year. “It goes from $800,000 up to $1.4 million,” he said. “But it hovers around $800,000 each year that the two systems here in the county split.”
According to Van Denton,director of corporate communications with the N.C. Education Lottery, over the past six years of operations, the lottery has produced more than $2.45 billion in revenue for North Carolina.
State legislators decide in the state budget each year how lottery dollars are allocated. This year’s budget called for 51.9 percent to go for teachers’ salaries in grades K-3, 23.5 percent to go to school construction, 14.8 percent to the N.C. Pre-K Program, 7.2 percent to need-based college scholarships, and 2.5 percent to UNC Need-Based Financial Aid.
The importance of the lottery funding is crucial to keep the burden off the taxpayers, lawmakers have said.
“If for some reason legislators decide that they need to allocate the (lottery) funding elsewhere, property taxes would have to go up,” Clack said, pointing to the debts the county must pay, lottery money or not. “When it comes in, it goes to pay that debt so the taxes stay as they are.”
The final 2012 fiscal year transfers amounted to $102.8 million, including earnings that resulted from sales in the last quarter of the fiscal year. The additional funds earned in the last days of the month will be carried over and transferred to the state in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.