California Lottery Withholds $36 Million From Public Education: Audit

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February 26, 2020 - 11:16 am
Students, teachers and parents gather to protest budget cuts to San Francisco public schools.

United Educators of San Francisco

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The California State Lottery has failed to give $36 million to fund public education as required, the state auditor said.

The revelation that California schools have been shortchanged comes at a time when districts across the state are slashing spending to balance budgets. . 

The auditor’s report showed that the lottery should have accounted for an increase in profits for the fiscal year that ended in June, 2018. The increase in profits should have resulted in $36 million dollars for public education. 

The California State Lottery "strongly disagrees" with the auditor’s findings, saying in a statement that it gives the most money it can to education. 

Meanwhile, San Francisco Unified School District has announced $26 million in budget cuts. SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews announced the cuts in an email sent to all district staff.

Parents, teachers and students have been protesting the announcement. A rally was held on Tuesday by the United Educators of San Francisco, the union representing education professionals working for SFUSD. 

In a press release, the United Educators of San Francisco President Susan Solomon said there is no reason for schools to be struggling in a city with so much wealth. 

 “At a time when San Francisco educators, students, and families are demanding more support and resources for our schools, the district has responded by proposing drastic cuts and layoffs,” she said. 

This problem is not unique to SFUSD. 

Troy Flint, a spokesperson for the California School Board Association, said that the struggle to stay afloat is occuring to many districts of all kinds, whether urban, suburban, rural, poor or affluent. 

“Districts across the Bay Area are in similar straits,” said Flint. “Oakland has a big deficit that it’s grappling with, as is West Contra Costa and even in smaller districts. Kent is one, in Marin.”

He said the pace of funding has not kept up with growth in California.

“School districts have been dipping into their reserves, but more and more we’re seeing districts that can’t do that any longer because their reserves are becoming depleted,” said Flint. “And, like San Francisco, they’re forced to consider layoffs of classified personnel, which are support staff, administrators, and in some cases, teacher layoffs as well.”

Jim Taylor contributed reporting to this article.