By: Bethany Stephens
Funding has been a recent concern for many school districts and parents who are trying to figure out how funding is allocated – especially those funds that come from the N.C. State Lottery. Since the lottery’s inception, the county has already received $3,000,966 in available funds to address capital outlay concerns such as building repairs and the like. The amount granted varies yearly, but any unused funds accumulate and roll over to the next year. This allows the county to also make income on the remaining balance’s interest. With previous years’ accumulation, there was recently $1,000,684 to use for this purpose. Recently, $325,810 in new roofing at Elizabethtown Middle and $37,570 for two new air conditioning units (to be installed on the replaced roof) have both been approved to come out of this funding. To access the N.C. State Lottery Funds, a request has to be made via the County Commissioners, and, if approved by the commissioners, the board then has to send the request to the state.
In addition to the lottery funding capital outlay, the state also uses a changing formula based on enrollment numbers and other related criteria to decide how much each school district in the state will be allocated to fund teaching positions. Since North Carolina’s constitution mandates that the state have a balanced budget each year, the timetable for the distribution of education funds varies from year to year. Usually the county receives these funds in late July, but sometimes, if it takes longer for the legislature to pass a budget that year, the county receives those funds after the budget is passed and the governor signs it. This is sometimes on time and other times takes a few extra months. After the governor signs the budget, the county is supposed to receive that year’s allotments within ten days.
Before the lottery legislation was passed, there was initially a clause that said that lottery funds could not be used to supplant the already in place funds allocated for education. Before the legislators voted on the bill that had that clause, however, the clause had been removed, and now the lottery funds effectively replace instead of supplement educational funds that would have previously come from the state’s general budget.