School Choice & Charters A National Roundup

Idaho Charter School Refuses Lottery Money on Ethical Grounds

By Catherine Gewertz — October 19, 2004 1 min read
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A charter school in Idaho has become the first in the state to refuse lottery proceeds.

The board of the 1-year-old North Star Public Charter School, located in Eagle, a suburb of Boise, decided to return a $9,532 check because accepting it would send the wrong signal to students.

Gale Pooley, the school’s co-founder and chairman of its board, said all five board members voted Sept. 16 to return the money because they believed accepting it would be at odds with the school’s mission to “create virtuous citizen leaders.”

Lottery officials note that more than two-thirds of the state’s residents play the lottery. But North Star’s board contends aggressive lottery marketing targets low-income people who can least afford it.

Allison Westfall, a spokeswoman for the Idaho Department of Education, said no other school has refused lottery proceeds since the gaming began in 1989.

Half the lottery proceeds are used for public buildings, and half are distributed each year to the state’s school districts and charter schools. This year, $8.9 million went to 114 districts and 15 charter schools, Ms. Westfall said.

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