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Why Richmond can’t use Virginia Lottery money to build new schools

RICHMOND, Va. -- Whenever a tax is discussed to raise money for schools, or a Virginia school system asks for more money during the budget process, questions about the Virginia Lottery are raised.

"When it comes to education, the Virginia Lottery is game," the Lottery adds to every press release it sends. "The Lottery generates more than $1.5 million per day for Virginia’s K-12 public schools. "

"If that is the case, how could schools ever need more money?" CBS 6 News viewers constantly ask via email or social media.

Similar questions were raised again as Richmond City Council voted Monday night to increase the city's meals tax to fund school improvements.

The Virginia Lottery contributed more than a half billion dollars to Virginia Public Schools in 2017. That money makes up just about eight percent of what Virginia spends on education each year.

The state uses a need-based formula to determine how much money each school district receives.

In Central Virginia, Henrico Schools got the most Lottery money in 2017 -- $20,411,275.49.

Richmond Public Schools received $19,196,373.90.

Chesterfield Schools got $17,817,973.27 in Lottery funds.

Hanover Schools took in $2,873,144.19.

Click here to see a complete breakdown of Lottery funds.

So why can't those millions be spent to build new schools or raise teacher salaries?

The Lottery turns over its proceeds to the Virginia Department of Education. Then it is up to the Virginia General Assembly to determine how to spend the Lottery money.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the Lottery money funds more than a dozen school-related programs that were formerly paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Examples include:

K-3 Primary Class-Size Reduction — $123,321,155
Provides incentives to school divisions for reducing class sizes in the primary grades below the mandatory Standards of Quality (SOQ) ratios for grades K-3. Payments are based on the incremental cost of providing smaller class sizes based on the lower of the division average per-pupil cost of all divisions or the participating division’s actual per-pupil cost.

At-Risk Add-On — $98,013,725
Supports programs for students who are educationally at risk with funds disbursed based on the estimated number of federal free lunch participants. Based on its percentage of free lunch eligibility, each school division receives between 1.0 and 13.0 percent in additional basic aid per free lunch-eligible student. School divisions may use these funds for dropout prevention, community-based and school-based truancy officer programs, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), Project Discovery, Reading Recovery, programs for students who speak English as a second language, or programs related to increasing the success of disadvantaged students in completing a high school degree and providing opportunities to encourage further education and training.

Special Education Regional Tuition — $86,110,854
Supports the state's share of tuition for students with disabilities who attend state-approved regional special education programs.

Virginia Preschool Initiative — $69,351,713
The Virginia Preschool Initiative distributes per-pupil state funds to schools and community-based organizations to provide quality preschool programs for at-risk four-year olds who are not served by Head Start. A local match, based on the composite index of local ability to pay, is required. During the 2016-2017 school year, 18,034 children in 120 school divisions participated in Virginia Preschool Initiative-funded pre-K programs.

Textbooks — $64,250,653
The state’s share of funding for textbooks in FY 2017 is split between the general fund and the Lottery Proceeds Fund. State textbook funding is matched by localities, based on the composite index of local ability to pay. School divisions may use a portion of textbook funding to purchase instructional materials aligned with state academic standards, electronic textbooks or other digital resources integral to the curriculum and classroom instruction.

English as a Second Language Payments — $53,267,521
Supports the state’s share of providing 17 professional instructional positions per 1,000 students for whom English is a second language. School divisions must provide a local match based on the composite index of local ability to pay.

Supplemental Lottery Per-Pupil Allocation — $36,581,531
Per-pupil allocation supports recurring and nonrecurring expenses in a manner that best meets the needs and priorities of the school division with no local match required.

Early Reading Intervention Payments — $20,057,840
Supports early reading intervention services to students in grades kindergarten through 3 who demonstrate deficiencies based on their individual performance on state-approved diagnostic tests. Payments are based on the state's share of the cost of providing two and one-half hours of additional instruction each week for the estimated number of students needing services in each school division at a student-to-teacher ratio of five to one.

Standards of Learning Algebra Readiness Payments — $12,968,589
Provides mathematics intervention services to students in grades 6, 7, 8 and 9 who are at-risk of failing the Algebra I end-of-course Standards of Learning test, as demonstrated by their individual performance on diagnostic tests. School divisions must provide intervention services for all identified students and must reassess these students at the end of the school year.

Career and Technical Education — $12,400,829
Provides funding to support Career and Technical Education (CTE) occupational preparation and adult CTE staffing and programs, and CTE equipment for school divisions and regional programs.

Foster Children Education Payments — $9,198,359
Supports the local cost of instruction for students who are not residents of the school division that is providing the students’ education who have been:
• Placed in foster care or other custodial care within the geographical boundaries of the school division by a local or state agency;
• Placed in an orphanage or children's home which exercises legal guardianship rights; or
• Placed, not solely for school purposes, in an institution or group home.

Regional Alternative Education Programs — $8,528,727
Provides support to Regional Alternative Education programs for the purpose of educating certain expelled students and, as appropriate, students who have received suspensions from public schools and students returned to the community from the Department of Juvenile Justice. Programs must be designed to ensure that students make the transition back into instructional settings within their local school division.

School Breakfast Payments — $4,887,179
Provides state-funded incentives to help school divisions maximize federal school nutrition revenues and increase student participation in the school breakfast program. A per-meal reimbursement of 22 cents is provided to school divisions that increase the number of breakfasts served in excess of the number served in an established baseline year. Funds may be used to reduce the per-meal price paid by students, reduce competitive food sales in order to improve the quality of nutritional offerings in schools, increase access to the school breakfast program or provide programs to raise awareness of good nutritional practices.

Project Graduation — $2,774,478
Project Graduation provides remedial instruction and assessment opportunities for students at risk of not meeting the commonwealth’s diploma requirements. Project Graduation grants fund academies for high school students who need additional instruction in preparation for re-takes of Standards of Learning tests needed to earn verified credits for graduation.

Race to GED — $2,410,988
Competitive grant program supporting activities to inform the public about the value and availability of the GED credential, increase adults’ access to and enrollment in high quality GED preparation programs, and/or increase GED-testing volume and pass rates.

Individual Student Alternative Education Program Payments — $2,247,581
Individual Student Alternative Education Program (ISAEP) is designed for 16-18 year-old students enrolled in high school programs who are having difficulty finding success in a regular classroom environment. Services provided may include career counseling, enrollment in high school equivalency certification preparation programs and career and technical education.

Path to Industry Certification — $1,831,464
Initiative covers credentialing fees for students working toward a selected industry credential or state license while pursuing a high school diploma. The program also supports credentialing for teachers.

Clinical Faculty and Mentor Teacher Program Payments — $1,000,000
Mentor Teacher programs assist pre-service teachers and beginning teachers in successfully transitioning into full-time teaching. State law requires school divisions to provide mentor teacher support programs for new teachers.

Supplemental Basic Aid — $810,169
Provides supplemental Basic Aid funding to small school divisions that enter into cost-savings agreements with adjoining divisions having a lower composite index of ability to pay. The school division receives supplemental Basic Aid funding by having this funding calculated using the lower composite index of the adjoining school division with which it enters into a cost-savings agreement to reduce costs of services and operations.