School is officially back in session this week for Chesterfield and Colonial Heights students. It’s an exciting time of the year for many, though some students may disagree with me on that point.
Around this time of year, particularly during an election year, I’m often asked about how the state lottery supports K-12 education. It’s a great question, and I wanted to take a minute to share with you some of the latest data.
Since 1999, lottery proceeds have gone towards K-12 education. In 2000, Virginia voters approved an amendment to the Constitution of Virginia requiring these funds go towards education.
During FY2019, the Virginia Lottery sent $649.7 million to Virginia public schools. This is a sizeable increase from FY2018. Of that statewide number, Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights received a combined $26 million.
About 60 percent of proceeds are allocated towards specific educational programs such as career and technical education, the Virginia Preschool Initiative, early reading intervention, K-3 primary class size reduction, the School Breakfast Program, algebra readiness and other programs.
The remaining 40 percent is sent back to school divisions with no string attached, leaving each school district to decide how best to spend those dollars. This, in particular, has been a priority of the General Assembly. We have sought to give local school leaders more flexibility with this funding.
Also of note, any unclaimed lottery prizes are placed in the Literary Fund. This fund can be accessed by localities for low-interest loans for building construction/renovation and technology upgrades. During FY2019, $6.5 million was deposited into the Literary Fund by the Virginia Lottery.
Overall, proceeds from the Virginia Lottery make up about 10 percent of the state’s K-12 budget. Significant funding for K-12 education comes from the state’s general fund, with local governments and the federal government also contributing. Here at home, we’ve successfully secured over $110 million in new funding for Chesterfield and Colonial Heights schools. On top of that, the General Assembly approved a much needed 5 percent raise for teachers this year.
I hope you find this information helpful and insightful. If you’d like to learn more about the lottery’s funding of education, you can click here.