You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.
$75 in school lunch debt
Officials in the Cherry Hill school district in New Jersey have approved a proposal that will allow principals to prevent students from participating in activities like field trips and dances if they are at least $75 behind in school lunch payments. The new plan came after students and parents protested the old policy of $10 in school lunch debt resulting in students being “forced to eat tuna fish sandwiches only.” The district has grappled with the issue of late meal payments before and forgave $25,000 of school lunch debt two years ago. [CBS News]
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76,030 television ad spots
Feel like you’re seeing more 2020 campaign ads? You’re not wrong. FiveThirtyEight analysis of data from Kantar/Campaign Media Analysis Group found that there have been more than twice as many television ad spots in this presidential election cycle than there were at this point in the 2016 election. Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 20, 2019, campaigns and outside groups spent an estimated $33.3 million on 76,030 television ad spots, compared with only 32,191 TV spots for the same period in 2015. Tom Steyer, a billionaire who is self-funding his campaign, is responsible for the bulk of this volume. He has aired 59,615 spots about his candidacy, or 78 percent of all 2020 presidential TV ads so far, at an estimated cost of $23.2 million. [FiveThirtyEight]
$10.7 million in federal loans and grants
Documents released Tuesday by the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee show that the Department of Education provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at two for-profit colleges that lacked accreditation and were ineligible to receive the financial aid. The Democratic chairman of the committee, Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, has threatened to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for more documents related to efforts in her department to shield the owner of the schools “from the consequences of lying to students,” The Washington Post reports. Robert J. Infusino was $28,000 in debt and only a few months shy of completion of his audio production program at the Illinois Institute of Art when he found out that his school was closing and had lost accreditation six months earlier, making it “a nightmare” to transfer credits to another institution. [The Washington Post]
179,000 California customers
Utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. started another major safety blackout Wednesday afternoon in 17 California counties, the utility’s second deliberate power outage in two weeks. Power is being cut to approximately 179,000 households and businesses because of forecasts of dangerous winds that could cause wildfires in the area. The move follows an earlier blackout that cut off power to an estimated 2 million people over four days. [The Sacramento Bee]
$3.5 million in legislator spending
A detailed review of spending by lawmakers in Pennsylvania found records for expensive dinners in Germany and Austria, sports tickets, limousines, country club memberships, $3,500 in gift cards and even a DNA test kit. A nationwide survey by two organizations, The Caucus and Spotlight PA, found that nearly $3.5 million was spent by state House and Senate candidates from 2016 to 2018 through campaign accounts for items that “cannot be fully traced,” resulting in incomplete information in official records and publicly available finance documents. Pennsylvania is the only state that neither limits contributions nor explicitly bans personal use of campaign cash, giving it some of the country’s weakest campaign finance laws. [Spotlight PA]
1.25 carat diamond
Canadians may be known for apologizing a lot, but there’s nothing humble about the championship ring that was given out to players during the Toronto Raptors’ season opener on Tuesday night. The enormous piece of jewelry sports a 1.25 carat diamond on its face, just one of the more than 650 diamonds on the ring. The rings were produced by the same Canadian company behind the Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship ring in 2016; the Raptors claim it’s the largest, most expensive NBA championship ring ever made. [CTV News]