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Schools' Lottery Proceeds Spent on Bonuses, Books

September 14, 1986|SUE AVERY | Times Staff Writer

Even as state lottery proceeds dwindle, San Gabriel Valley school systems have become instant winners with their share of the take, enabling them to give bonuses to teachers, pay for instructional programs and keep positions that otherwise might have been eliminated.

From Pomona to Pasadena, public school districts have become richer by amounts ranging from $110,147 to more than $3.8 million.

Although education's share of the profits has dropped from $50 per pupil in the first payment in February to $35 per pupil in the third payment just announced, school officials have been able to do such things as:

Give teachers one-time bonuses of $1,000 in the Duarte Unified School District.

Pay for a special science program for elementary students in the South Pasadena school system.

Retain positions for secretaries, teacher aides and custodians that had been earmarked for elimination in the Claremont Unified School District.

Although thankful for the extra funds, school officials are concerned that lawmakers and the public may begin to assume that traditional school funding can be reduced. In fact, school officials said, the lottery money increases their yearly budgets by only about 2% to 4%.

"We are not ungrateful, but it is not our salvation either," Stephen Hodgson, administrator of business services for the Temple City Unified School District, said of the $533,917 earmarked for his district.

Richard Angarola, deputy superintendent for administrative services for the Rowland Unified School District, worries that "in the first and second years, the lottery money will be a windfall but after that it will be built into everyone's thinking when it comes to financing schools."

Drop Was Expected

Under state law, 34% of the lottery's proceeds must go toward elementary, secondary and higher education. School systems are to receive their share of the money once each quarter. Because the lottery started last October, districts got only three payments for fiscal 1985-86, and each payment was less than the one before.

Carl Burson, chief of field services for the state Department of Education's local assistance bureau, said state officials assumed even before the lottery started that revenues would drop as the novelty faded. He said that Bill Honig, state superintendent of public instruction, had warned school districts to be cautious because revenues would fluctuate.

"The initial response in California was greater than we anticipated but the drop was also greater than anticipated," said Bruce Peppin, superintendent of the Alhambra City and High School Districts.

John Schade, assistant director of public affairs for the Lottery Commission, said state officials hope to keep interest high by offering new types of games.

"We raised $689 million during the 1985-86 fiscal year," Schade said. "The first payment was $272 million, the second was $225 million and the third was $192 million. That is not a whole lot of drop-off.

"We are happy with our success thus far and we think we can keep a good rate of sales," he said.

Warning Heeded

Because no one can predict the amount of funding, Bruce Zentil, director of school financial services in the county Office of Education, warned that "districts can't build lottery proceeds in as permanent sources of funding for long-term planning."

San Gabriel Valley school districts have heeded that warning.

Giving bonuses to teachers and other school personnel and buying textbooks and equipment have been among the most popular uses of the funds.

Almost all of the districts gave bonuses after negotiating with teacher associations.

Teachers in some districts were very successful in negotiating bonuses, said Kelly Horner, a staff consultant for Region 3 of the California Teachers Assn. "Teachers in low salary districts shouldn't have to apologize for wanting a bonus. We will pressure the districts."

The bonuses for teachers ran from about $500 to just over $1,000.

Extra for Managers

In addition to teachers, other school employees got bonuses. The San Marino Unified School District, for example, gave non-teachers $500 bonuses. And management personnel in Duarte got bonuses of $1,100, $100 more than teachers and $700 more than non-teachers.

South Pasadena plans to use about $45,000 of its $430,000 to continue a special science program for elementary schools that has won a state education award.

Linda Bornheimer, the former teacher who had the idea for the program, has been hired as a consultant to administer the laboratory-oriented, hands-on project. In addition to developing lesson plans and working directly with students, Bornheimer will help teachers improve their laboratory skills.

South Pasadena also used some of its lottery money to hire a librarian and to purchase pamphlets that provide tips on what to do in case of an earthquake.

Class Size Relief

One of the school districts plans to use a portion of its $1-million funding in a plan to reduce class sizes.

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