QUESTION: Where is all the money from the lottery that was supposed to benefit schools? Where else is lottery money supposed to be spent? Who is in charge and accountable? Why are our schools falling apart and teachers spending their own money on supplies? Since the lottery it seems schools have gotten worse. What is the lottery job title and how much do they get paid from CEO on down?
ANSWER: Since the California Lottery was approved by voters in 1984 and the first scratchers were sold in 1985, $32.5 billion has been allocated to schools ($53.8 billion to winners), Slightly more than 4 percent has gone to lottery administration and its 800-plus employees.
Tuolumne County schools have received $30 million in that time period. Last year, public and private schools and the Tuolumne County Superintendent's Office here received $1.1 million total. School allocations are based on average daily attendance.
The lottery is governed by five lottery commissioners appointed by the governor. Alameda County Sheriff Gregory Ahern is the chairman. Connie M. Perez-Andreesen, a certified public accountant, is vice chair and the other members are Nathaniel Kirtman III, a business consultant, and Rowena Libang-Bobila, a lawyer. One seat is vacant.
The staff is headed by Director Hugo Lopez, who in 2016 — the last year available on the Transparent California website — made $158,592.54 in salary. With benefits, his compensation was $226,211.35.
He has an administrative team that includes a chief deputy director and 10 deputy directors. Their salaries were not available from the Lottery Commission. The headquarters is in Sacramento.
Twenty percent of the money sent to schools is, by law, earmarked for textbooks and other instructional materials.
“Books in particular are very expensive and every few years there are new adoptions based on new standards in the curricular areas all schools teach,” said Dave Urquhart, superintendent at Big Oak Flat/Groveland School District. “If you add up the cost of books at $60-$140 each, depending on the subject and the grade level, the cost is high for our schools.”
Schools here have used the unrestricted money for teachers to buy classroom supplies, instructional materials, computer and stipends for coaches and club advisors. Belleview Elementary pays its librarian from lottery funds, Tonya Midget chief business official, said.
Tuolumne County Superintendent Margie Bulkin said most of the $17,000 her office receives each year goes to special education.
Joe Aldridge, superintendent at Columbia Elementary said unrestricted funds have been spent on stipends for coaches and extra instructional aide time in classrooms.
The Lottery Commission supplied these numbers for how much was allocated to Tuolumne County public schools (first number is total since 1985, second is 2016-17):
Belleview — $814,574; $25,117
Big Oak Flat/Groveland — $1.8 million, $52,100
Chinese Camp — $76,145, $0
Columbia — $2.3 million, $85,443
Connections — $388,000, $43,197
Curtis Creek — $3 million, $92,399
Jamestown — $1.8 million, $67,109
Sonora Elementary - $3.3 million, $146,760
Sonora High — $6 million, $178,375
Soulsbyville — $2.5 million, $100,444
Summerville Elementary — $1.8 million, $82,687
Summerville High — $2.5 million, $83,614
Twain Harte — $2.2 million, $48,005