February 27 2010
Cha-Ching or Chump Change? Bigger Administrative Savings Jackpot at California School Districts, not State Lottery
Vicki E. Alger, Ph.D
California's public schooling system needs a bigger cut of gambling revenue-so the Lottery Commission has to tighten its belt and deliver according to a new bill making its way through the state legislature.
Back in 1984 voters passed Proposition 37 to create the California Lottery. The law requires that no more than 16 percent of the total revenue can be used for lottery administration, including staff, printing, marketing, and distribution costs. At least 84 percent of total lottery revenue must go to the public: at least 50 percent for lottery winners, and at least 34 percent for the public schooling system.
The new bill would reduce the share for lottery overhead from 16 percent to13 percent and increase the public share to 87 percent. To do this it piles on additional regulatory requirements and complicated funding formulas for what would amount to around $130 some-odd per student.
Meanwhile, California School districts already spend more than 10 times as much, around $1,600 per student, on general administration, school administration, and operations and maintenance combined. Together these spending categories represent about half (49.6 percent) of all non-instructional support expenditures at a typical California public school.
All told, these non-instructional support expenditures account for close to 40 percent of per-pupil spending according to the latest U.S. Department of Education financial data (excluding capital expenditures and school debt).
If policy makers in Sacramento are serious about getting more bang for the educational buck, they'd stop squeezing an agency that already delivers more than 80 cents of every dollar to the public, and start addressing why school districts only devote about 60 cents of their education dollars to instruction.