RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina counties could spend their share of state lottery profits on digital textbooks and devices and high-speed Internet for local schools in a bill that's cleared the state House.
Representatives voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of the bill, which gives counties the ability to use money that right now must be spent on brick-and-mortar school construction. The overall distribution of lottery profits to counties wouldn't change.
Bill sponsor Rep. Craig Horn of Union County says the measure gives flexibility to school districts to meet increasing needs for classroom technology. Counties won't be able to spend on technology after mid-2016 unless a local district is improving student performance adequately.
Counties received $108 million from the lottery this past year. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Raleigh, N.C. — School systems will be able to wire schools and buy computer equipment with lottery funding that had previously been set aside for construction needs under a bill the state House passed 109-3 Thursday.
The bill now goes to the Senate.
"This bill sets some performance requirements," said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union. "It doesn't just say, 'Here's some money, have a good time, buy some iPads.'"
The measure, he said, is designed to give school districts flexibility in how they use their funding. Some districts, he said, may not need to build more schools or may prefer to finance them in different ways.
Gov. Pat McCrory mentioned giving school districts more flexibility in his State of the State speech.
Opponents to the bill said it will aggravate differences among school districts. Poorer districts, they said, would not really have the option to use the lottery funds for technology.
"We'll have a situation where some counties have resources for digital learning and others don't," said Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham.
He said the state should have provided tax dollars for technology rather than passing what, in his words, is a "feel good bill."
Horn objected to that description.
"This is not an appropriations bill. It's not a lottery bill. It's not a directive. It's a bill ... that allows counties, working in cooperation with (school districts) flexibility in funding," he said.
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