So you bought lottery tickets last week, yet you didn't emerge mega-millions richer. But, you can argue, you helped dig schools out of their budget hole.

Well, not so much.

The collective Mega Millions frenzy, wherein get-rich-quick gamblers bought hundreds of millions of lottery tickets in California alone, will add millions of dollars to education's account. But overall it's a tiny amount: The extra lottery funds amount to about $8.67 per student.

The infusion of mega bucks -- over and above what the Mega Millions game would typically contribute to schools -- translates into a mini percentage, compensating for less than 16 percent of the midyear cuts that Sacramento handed down to schools in the winter.

"Every dollar counts, but this isn't going to make a big difference," said Peggy Marshburn, spokeswoman for the Contra Costa County Office of Education.

Marshburn pointed out that lottery revenues, which were intended as a supplement, not a substitute, for state and local tax funding, contribute less than 2 percent of the education budget.

Last year, the various state lottery games provided $1.12 billion to public education, including K-12 schools, public universities and colleges.

The record-setting $640 million Mega Millions jackpot spurred a ticket-buying spree generating about $70 million more for education than during the average nine-week period in 2011. The comparison is rough, lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said, because lottery sales fluctuate greatly, so there's really no normal week of sales.


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Mega Millions tickets were sold in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Californians came up empty in the quest for the biggest prize. Three winners -- in Maryland, Illinois and Kansas -- will split the jackpot.

Of the windfall in funding generated over the past nine weeks, K-12 schools in California will reap an extra $53.8 million, or about three-quarters of the total handed to education. School districts will get the money in the summer after the state controller remits lottery funds to California's county treasurers, who handle the cash resources for school districts. Money from Mega Millions and other lottery games such as scratchers is disbursed based on a per-student formula -- the same way the state funds and cuts school budgets.

The state's midyear cuts, imposed because revenues are falling short of expectations and expenditures, amount to $55 per student. So the Mega Millions funds, while a bonus, still amount to only 15.8 percent of what was cut in February.

Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed that California spend $59 billion, in state and federal funds and property taxes, to run K-12 schools in 2012-13. With schools facing cuts of $370 per child next school year if voters reject the governor's tax package, the lottery's largesse probably won't make a big difference.

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/noguchionk12.

By the numbers

$1.12 billion

Lottery funding provided to K-12 schools, colleges and universities in 2011

$53.8 million

Approximate extra K-12 funding raised through lottery sales since Jan. 25

$8.67

Approximate extra K-12 funding per student raised since Jan. 25