The announcement was made Friday. The funds were withheld from local school boards starting in February as the state’s executive branch scrambled to boost liquidity in order to weather the budget crisis.
“It is apparent that Gov. Perdue realizes the value of public education and has decided to do the right thing by returning this money to the schools,” said Richmond County School Board Vice Chairman Tom McInnis.
He noted the money is important for the county’s school system because it has several construction projects underway.
Traditionally, RCS’s allotment of lottery funds has yielded the system about $1 million a year. It is collected in quarterly payments.
“We have used this money to make payments on our $25 million bond referendum in the past,” said RCS Chief Financial Officer Pam Satterfield.
She said RCS is currently preparing an application for lottery funds to help pay a $450,000 debt payment.
“We didn’t actually lose the money,” Satterfield said. “(Gov. Perdue) redistributed it at the time, but now it’s being returned.”
In a statement, Gov. Perdue said the economic recession “created a shortfall of billions of dollars, and I had to turn over every stone to pay North Carolina’s bills ...”
She took some heat over the decision among citizens and officials, who pointed out the gaming system is called “The North Carolina Education Lottery.”
“With our bills paid and the books for last fiscal year cleared out, I’m restoring the school construction lottery funds in full, which means North Carolina’s public schools will receive another $37.6 million next week,” Perdue said.