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Alaska’s first PFD Education Raffle raises nearly $1 million

Thousands of Alaskans pledged a total of $976,400 this year in the inaugural Permanent Fund dividend Education Raffle, according to initial numbers Wednesday from the state.

Half the money raised will go to public K-12 schools in the upcoming fiscal year, a quarter will go into a new education endowment and the rest will go into a raffle fund used to pay for prizes.

Alaska will hold its first raffle drawing in January 2020, said Anne Weske, director of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division. Four participants will win a cash prize.

Alaska lawmakers created the statewide raffle last year to help raise money for schools. Fairbanks Republican Sen. Click Bishop, who introduced the bill to create the program, said the money donated through the raffle is not meant to supplant state funding.

“That was clear,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has proposed axing more than $300 million in state funding for K-12 education in the fiscal year that starts July 1. Members of the Alaska House of Representatives approved an alternative budget on Thursday that made no cuts and preserved a one-time, $30 million increase to school funding that lawmakers had approved last year.

Under the new raffle program, Alaskans age 18 and older applying for their dividends can use all or some of their checks to buy raffle entries at $100 apiece.

Initial numbers show 8,636 Alaskans participated in the raffle, buying a total of 9,764 entries with their 2019 dividends, Weske said. Those numbers are expected to change, she said, as it’s determined whether the entrants are eligible for a dividend and whether they owe any money such as child support payments.

Bishop said the initial tallies exceeded his expectations for the raffle’s first year.

“I’m blown away,” he said.

He said he expects the money raised to grow each year.

Based on the initial numbers, here’s a breakdown of where the money will go:

• 50%, or $488,200, will go to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to be divided among school districts based on how many students they enroll. That means the Anchorage School District will receive nearly $140,000 based on enrollment projections, according to the state education department.

• 25%, or $244,100, will go to the new education endowment. When the endowment’s average market value exceeds $1 billion, a portion will also be used to fund education.

• 15% will go toward the January raffle prizes: $19,528 for first place, $9,764 for second place, $4,882 for third place and $2,441 for fourth place. The rest goes into a raffle fund to grow the future prize amounts.

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