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Lottery pumps millions into Floyd schools

December 25, 2016 GMT

From youngsters getting a start to others heading to college, students on both ends of the educational spectrum have been the big winners of the lottery in Floyd County.

New data from the Georgia Lottery Corp. shows that more than 15,300 pre-K students in the county have benefited from an influx of $56.2 million in funding for early-education programs in local schools and daycare centers.

Debra McDaniel, who owns three Rome daycare centers with five lottery-funded pre-K programs, said it has clearly been beneficial to youngsters, but has not necessarily been as good to the operators.

She said the program was originally designed to fund 20 slots, but that has been increased to 22, which makes the job a little tougher for teachers and paraprofessionals.

"Every time a student leaves the program, that teacher’s salary and that assistant’s salary is cut one-twenty-second," McDaniel said. "We have to eat that cost because how many teachers do you know that want to take a job where you say ‘if you lose a kid, you’re salary is cut.’"

At the other end of the spectrum, more than 24,500 students have received HOPE scholarships or grants in Floyd County, amounting to more than $84.3 million in financial assistance. Local schools have also received more than $7.9 million in technology grants.

Over the 23 years of the lottery’s existence, retailers in Floyd County have netted more than $46.3 million in commissions from ticket sales and also have paid out more than $398.1 million.

That represents both scratch-off-and draw-game receipts.

The Georgia Lottery was approved by voters in November 1992 and began selling tickets in June 1993.

Gene Smith, who was standing outside Rick’s Food Mart in North Rome using his pocket knife to scratch-off a couple of tickets Saturday morning, said a nice cash win would make Christmas a little brighter.

"It would help quite a bit, I guarantee it would," he said.

Years ago Smith says he did win $1,000 on a scratch-off ticket.

Georgia has had one mystery winner/loser over the past two decades. Someone purchased a $77 million Powerball ticket from a truck stop off Interstate 20 in Tallapoosa back in June 2011. No one ever stepped forward to claim the prize within the designated 180-day period, so the prize money was returned to states participating in the Powerball lottery.

Pre-K programs in neighboring Bartow, Gordon, Polk and Chattooga counties have netted $126.1 million over the past 23 years, while HOPE scholarships and grants to students from those adjacent counties has amounted to $163.4 million.

RN-T.com

Read this story online for a link to the Georgia Lottery website.