Published: October 15, 2023

Mississippi teachers reap rewards as state lottery boosts education funds

- The lucky numbers for the second largest Powerball jackpot in history are selected Wednesday night. More than $1.7 billion dollars will be up for grabs...but what happens if there isn’t a winner?

Well, even if players can’t hit those winning digits, they’ll still be paying for important things in the community.

Chelsea Campbell punched in her ticket at Bao Wow in Ocean Springs ahead of Wednesday night’s drawing. The cash prize, about $756 million, is more than enough to make dreams come true.

“Shoot, I’d pay off my house, I’d pay off my vehicle, and I actually own a gym, so I’d buy a bigger facility,” said Campbell.

However, checks are already cashing behind the scenes and changing lives right under our noses.

Tiersa Boney and Margie Young are teachers at Pecan Park Elementary. They’re also cardholders of the Mississippi Department of Education’s “Education Enhancement Funds.”

“It kind of looks like a debit card,” said Boney. “This year it had about $672.”

The Mississippi Lottery Corporation has poured over $42 million into those funds, with the last fiscal year ending in June.

“In years past, we would receive between $200 and $300,” said Boney. “Now, we’re getting, you know, close to $700. So it’s a huge difference.”

Hundreds of dollars, all on one card — for school shopping.

“When I first started teaching years ago, you know, most of your materials were purchased yourself,” said Young.

How does it work? The first $80 million in lottery proceeds goes to the Department of Transportation. All the remaining goes towards the Education Enhancement Fund.

“I was able to get a lot of centers, like games for centers and phonics manipulatives and math manipulatives...” Young stated. “...Lots of just hands-on student learning, just exciting activities for the kids.”

And according to Young, those purchases are more than worth it.

“It really just makes learning fun and memorable. It gives them opportunities they may have never had.”

“I have three kids, so Lord knows we need our teachers,” said Campbell.

In 2023 alone, the lottery has paid out over $122 million to the state — $43 million for teachers and $80 million to MDOT for roads and bridges.

© Public Gaming Research Institute. All rights reserved.