Despite recent reports of an increase in lottery profits this year, school officials from around the state are throwing doubt on speculation that it may mean a windfall for school districts in Ohio.

Despite recent reports of an increase in lottery profits this year, school officials from around the state are throwing doubt on speculation that it may mean a windfall for school districts in Ohio.

Chris Essman, treasurer for Bexley City Schools, joined other school groups last week in dispelling such rumors, which began circulating after recent reports of a record year by the Ohio Lottery Commission.

While lottery profits do help fund schools, Essman said, they have traditionally offset state funding decreases.

In fiscal year 2002, Bexley City Schools received $4,658,000 in state money, said Essman, representing the highest amount ever. But funding has been on the downswing, Essman pointed out. In fact, last fiscal year, Bexley received $3,815,000 -- a reduction of $843,000 per year (an 18.1 percent drop).

"I suppose without the lottery profits, our funding may have been cut more than the 18.1 percent," he said.

Other groups throughout the state agree that this is how lottery profits fit in.

Three statewide education management groups representing Ohio's public school districts released a statement late last month in response to recent performance reports from the Ohio Lottery Commission -- including the Ohio School Boards Association, the Buckeye Association of School Administrators, and the Ohio Association of School Business Officials. Each agreed that increased lottery profits would not equate to increased funding for state schools.

The Ohio Lottery Commission issued a statement in July boasting of a record sales year and a record year-end transfer to education in the state of Ohio.

"While it is true that all Ohio Lottery profits are used by the state to fund education, the profit from increased sales was simply used to free up other state funds that had previously been set aside for schools, allowing more money to be transferred into the state's rainy-day fund," said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. "No increase in this year's funding for school districts will be available as a result of these unexpected profits."

BASA Executive Director Kirk Hamilton agreed, saying, "The increase in lottery profits was positive news for the state of Ohio because of its recent devastating budget shortfall. However, we were disappointed to see reports implying that it is school districts that will benefit. In reality, when lottery profits exceed estimates, the total amount available for Ohio schools does not change."

For fiscal year 2013, the state will hand over $7.2 billion to traditional and community schools, an amount established by Gov. John Kasich in his budget adopted in June 2011. According to the OSBA, the BASA and the OASBO, that amount will not increase as a result of increased lottery profits without action by the governor and the legislature.

Essman said he and other school officials also are not counting on any windfall from casino profits this year.

"The lottery has run commercials for years saying how profits from the lottery support Ohio schools," Essman said. "I am sure the casinos will also state this fact. Again ... the state gets money from a lot of sources. If they targeted lottery and casino money to schools but reduce money from other sources, schools do not get a windfall."

Unlike other districts around the state, Bexley traditionally receives a small portion of its total funding from the state.

Last fiscal year, Bexley received about 13.4 percent of its general fund revenue from Ohio state coffers.