OKLAHOMA CITY — State Representatives Wes Hilliard (D-Sulphur) and Barbara Staggs (D-Muskogee) Friday urged their legislative colleagues and Governor Henry to follow through with allocations of lottery revenue for the Oklahoma schools for the deaf and blind.

"The people of Oklahoma agreed to include these two schools when they voted for the lottery," Hilliard said. "Rep. Staggs and I want to be sure that they get their fair share of lottery funding during the hectic last days of the session."

"Governor Henry's executive budget recommended $336,243 in lottery revenue for the School for the blind and $422,880 for the School for the Deaf," Hilliard. "However, no specific percentage for the schools has been mentioned thus far."

Lottery legislation stipulates that 30 percent of net proceeds must be transferred to the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust Fund to support improvements and enhancements for educational purposes.

Forty-five percent of this revenue is earmarked for public education, including compensation and benefits. An additional 45 percent is shared by higher education, capital programs and technology for all levels of education, and programs and personnel at the Oklahoma School for the Deaf and Oklahoma School for the Blind.

The Teacher Retirement System Dedicated Revenue Revolving Fund and School Consolidation and Assistance Fund will each receive 5 percent.

"We are special advocates for the schools, which are located in our districts," Staggs said. "However, all of us share responsibility for providing children who are blind or deaf with the same educational opportunities that all children deserve."

"After 12 years in the legislature, I can tell you that the schools have not always received the same funding or benefits as other public schools," said Staggs. "Now the support to include the schools is there, but we have to keep the positive pressure on until the lottery revenue is actually in place.”

“The schools are divisions of the Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), which submitted potential funding requests in March 2006 for "much needed equipment, textbooks, vehicles, building maintenance and new structures that our current school budgets simply cannot afford."

The Oklahoma School for the Blind (OSB) in Muskogee and the Oklahoma School for the Deaf (OSD) in Sulphur offer on-campus education through fully accredited academic programs for residential students and those who commute from home. Both schools offer critical outreach services benefiting students who attend local schools, including summer school programs, in-service teacher training, academic and disability-related evaluations and expert consultations.

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