Lottery and school funding

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By Jim Clark

Like many Floridians, I play the lottery, usually Lotto. I don't go overboard with the amount I spend, and occasionally I win a few bucks.

When you see a report such as the one the Florida Lottery put out last weekend, though, it makes you think.

In an insert in many Sunday newspapers throughout the state, lottery officials published an eight-page, full-color report of how much money has been spent on education from lottery proceeds.

When the lottery first started, the concept sounded good. It was money for education, but of course there was little mention of how much of that money would come from compulsive gamblers who were hurting their own financial situations by playing the state-sanctioned numbers racket.

So let's take a look at last weekend's report.

It stated that for Levy County, in the time from 1988-89 to 2000-01 for preschool, and for all public schools from 1987-88 to 2006-07, the money received from lottery funding totaled $29,275,476. Of that funding, $2,740,615 went to Bright Futures Scholarships, and $6,071,510 went to construction.

According to the School Board Web site, there are approximately 6,200 students in Levy County Schools.

If you do all the math, it means that after you deduct the Bright Futures scholarships, which don't go to every student, and the construction, the lottery is giving us an approximate average of $165 per student for regular classroom operations per year.

With today's prices, that isn't much.

The lottery has come up with something new in its Lotto game. You can now play $2 per line and increase your top prize by $10 million, or you can play $3 per line and increase it by $25 million. Of course, it also means you can lose three times as much money in one play as you used to lose (they don't tell you that in their ads).

Another question came up as I looked through the report - How much did it cost to produce this propaganda? Did we really need eight color pages, tabloid size, to tell us information that should just have been put on the Web site?

Ask yourself these questions and note these figures the next time you see a commercial about how great the lottery is for education.

THIS WEEK'S STYLEBOOK: One of the things we note in news releases that are handed in to us is how different people express time. Here's the AP Style:

Please read the following sentence out loud:

The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Now read the next sentence out loud:

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

Says the same thing, doesn't it. So why use the :00 at all? You don't need to.

Also note the p.m. It's not capitalized, and it is an abbreviation, and like most abbreviations in the English language, it takes periods.

Also, two redundancies to avoid. Don't say 12 noon, or 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. It's simply "noon" or "midnight." (Noon and midnight are always 12).

The second redundancy, and I've been guilty of this, is to say something is at 7 p.m. in the evening. Either say 7 in the evening, or 7 p.m. period. (7 p.m. is always in the evening, and 8 a.m. is always in the morning, etc.).

THIS WEEK'S WEB SITE: Ever wonder how to spell the name of a city or town correctly? Go to www.HomeTownLocator.com which gives you the spelling of almost every community in the U.S.

We use it to check the spelling of towns in submitted material, particularly in obituaries that list survivors from other communities.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.