Educators, legislators at odds over lottery revenues in Oklahoma

By: Robin Beal Email
By: Robin Beal Email

ARDMORE, Okla. -- A large portion of Oklahoma’s lottery revenues was set to go to schools to pay for teacher raises, but after a $17 million shortfall in projected lottery revenues in 2007, the state superintendent is pushing to have the legislature change the way it earmarks funds for local districts.

Officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Education have expressed concerns lately about how lottery revenues are actually funneled to individual school districts.

State Superintendent Sandy Garrett's Office says that she plans to broach the topic at next week's state school board meeting and hopes to draft something that can be sent to the legislature next month.

The issue seems to be in how the legislature says those lottery funds can be spent.

Some local schools administrators say they have to make up for a shortfall in lottery revenue out of their district reserves.

"They do need to pay for it because if they're not getting enough money to take care of the mandates, then you're going to have to start cutting out somewhere," Thackerville superintendent David Herron says.

Legislators say schools are getting more money than ever before, and that nobody should have had to cover any lottery revenue shortfalls out of reserve funds.

There seems to be a difference of opinion depending on who you talk to.

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