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Schools, Colleges Wrestle With Ways to Spend $15 Million in Lottery Funds

February 20, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

The first distribution from the state Lottery has pumped more than $15.8 million into the coffers of 17 school districts, four colleges and one university in the Southeast-Long Beach area, setting off a scramble over how the funds should be spent.

Districts are now wrestling with what to do with this extra cash; they must try to balance competing interests and decide whether the funds should be used for such things as teachers' salaries, textbooks, computers, furniture, drapes, more air conditioning, increased security, high-speed copying machines and other supplies, or to balance the budget.

Many districts have prepared "shopping lists" or formed committees to study the issue, while others plan public hearings to draw up their priority lists.

The money was deposited in the county treasury Feb. 3 for each district. Amounting to $50.68 per student statewide, it is based on the average daily school attendance and is for Lottery tickets sold in October, November and December--the California Lottery's first fiscal quarter, said Bruce Zentil, director of school financial services, Los Angeles County Office of Education.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday February 27, 1986 Home Edition Long Beach Part 9 Page 6 Column 1 Zones Desk 3 inches; 77 words Type of Material: Correction
A Feb. 20 story incorrectly reported the amount of the bonus that the Long Beach Unified School District has agreed to pay teachers from its share of Lottery revenues. The story should have said the district has agreed to use a portion of its Lottery revenues to pay an average bonus of $1,000 to $1,200 per teacher over the next three years. Each of the system's 2,800 teachers will receive a 1% bonus based on this year's salary, a 1% bonus next year which is based on that year's salary, and a 1.5% bonus in the third year. The average teacher's salary is $30,000.

The Lottery proposition, voters approved in November, 1984, required that at least 34% of the receipts go to public schools, community colleges and state universities. The only restrictions are that the money not be spent on research, land purchases or construction of new schools, Zentil said.

Up to Each District

Just where the money is spent is left up to each district.

There have been involved, sometimes difficult, talks over how to divide the extra money.

Some districts have agreed that the money should be thought of as separate from general school funds, and therefore spent only for special needs that otherwise would not be funded. Some officials are afraid to become dependent on the lottery cash, worried that the money won't always be there.

Many teachers unions have pushed for a share of lottery money to boost pay, but State Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig has warned districts to be cautious in spending the money for salaries.

"Teacher salaries are important. But districts must be cautious and not drop it all into salaries. The next time, (the allocation) might not be as high. Then you'll be left holding the bag," Honig said in a telephone interview from Sacramento.

"Some districts have tried a variety of ways, giving one-time bonuses," Honig said.

The largest Lottery revenue winner in the Southeast-Long Beach area is Long Beach Unified School District. The district, which has 64,000 students, received almost $3.15 million.

If the allotment continued at this rate for the entire year, it would amount to just under $12.6 million, or nearly a 5% bonus to the district's $257-million budget.

The Long Beach district, which has been negotiating with the Teachers Assn. of Long Beach on a contract for nine months, has agreed that the teachers will share some of the lottery revenue.

The district has tentatively agreed to give the 2,800 teachers 1% of its Lottery share, said a spokesman for the district. The 1%--about $30,000--would amount to about $11 a teacher.

"That 1% is a lump-sum payment," said Dick Van Der Laan, district director of public and employee information.

Agreed to Lump Sum

The union has tentatively agreed to the 1% payment but the two sides have not reached a settlement on the entire contract, said Don Goddard, president of the Teachers Assn. of Long Beach.

In addition to the teacher share, the board of education has set other tentative guidelines, Van Der Laan said. It would devote about one-third of the remaining money to renovating science labs and about one-third would go to individual school sites.

"Nothing has been finalized but parents and teachers will be meeting to decide how they will use the money at each site," Van Der Laan said.

Other districts grappling over whether to spend the revenue on teacher salaries include the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District and the Downey Unified School District.

Downey Unified has been given $722,591. Norwalk-La Mirada received $988,745.

Share of Annual Budget

The annual budget for the Downey Unified School District is about $43 million. If the allotment continued for the entire year at the same rate, it would amount to a 6.7% bonus for the district.

The Norwalk-La Mirada district's annual budget of $61 million would receive about a 6.48% boost if Lottery contributions remained constant.

Supt. Manuel Gallegos of the Downey Unified School District said he does not believe the money should be used for teachers' salaries.

"It is my personal feeling that this is one-time money. We are not sure what will happen next year or from now on.

"We should use this money for critical needs. Salaries should come from the general fund," Gallegos said.

The district is proposing that an estimated $650,000 go toward school equipment, including office equipment, typewriters, desks for students, cabinets and equipment for science labs, Gallegos said.

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