North Carolina this week released to county governments $37.6 million of lottery funds designated for public schools that were held back amid the state's budget shortfall.

In February, Gov. Beverly Perdue withheld the funds from the public school building capital fund as the state faced a $3.2 billion gap for fiscal 2009. The money became available after the fiscal year ended June 30. The state passed a fiscal 2010 budget with more than $1 billion in new taxes and fees. A 1% sales tax hike went into effect Tuesday.

Districts have submitted applications for $187 million of qualified school construction bonds. Districts will learn how much they will receive as early as this week, said Ben Matthews, director of school support at the Department of Public Instruction.

Four of the state's largest districts already received a specific amount from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The QSCBs offer investors a tax credit instead of an interest payment.

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