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The Morning Bell: Lottery officials predict boost for ed funding

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The Oklahoma Lottery Commission has reported that sales of lottery tickets and scratch-off tickets have increased this year and the commission estimates a double-digit increase in its contribution to education funds next year, reports The Oklahoman's Dale Denwalt. 

"Even without sales related to recent Powerball jackpots, we're still seeing tremendous growth in other games that are helping drive the increases we're projecting to education," said Jay Finks, director of sales and marketing.

The state lottery, which has seen diminished participation with its scratch-off cards in recent years, was able to increase prize amounts with a new law adopted by the Legislature last year.

As participation dwindled, officials had to shrink prize amounts because state law required that at least 35 percent of all proceeds be diverted to the Education Trust Fund. In 2013, the Lottery lowered payouts so it could comply with the profit margin restriction.

Flu outbreak closes schools

More than a half dozen school districts in Oklahoma have closed for at least a day because of a flu outbreak, reports the Associated Press

In Oklahoma, the Cleveland and Union City schools both closed for a day earlier this week, while the Morris, Quinton, Swink, Hugo and Valliant districts are closed until next week.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reports at least 22 flu-related deaths during the current season while Texas Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Lara Antone said that state has at least 1,155 deaths due to flu or pneumonia, which are counted together.

School rape case goes to grand jury 

The multicounty grand jury is now investigating the Bixby High School rape case, reports the Tulsa World

Rogers County District Attorney Matt Ballard, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, and a handful of witnesses arrived early Wednesday morning at the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

A couple of star players on the Bixby Spartan football team were on hand, in addition to Bixby school board Vice President Lisa Owens and high-profile Tulsa defense attorney Shannon McMurray.

Teachers union backs pay raise plan

Oklahoma Education Association president Alicia Priest announced her organization's support for a tax plan that includes a $5,000 pay raise for teachers.  

“We are excited to be part of the solution,” said Alicia Priest, president of the OEA and a career Spanish teacher from Yukon. “The Step Up Oklahoma plan is an excellent first step toward paying our educators fairly and restoring education funding in our state. Lawmakers must act on this plan now. Oklahoma can't afford to lose a generation of teachers.”

--In a recent poll commissioned by the OEA, half the state's likely voters said education is the No. 1 funding priority — ahead of combined responses of those selecting jobs and the economy, health care, roads and bridges, and taxes, reports NonDoc. Most voters say education funding must be increased — even if it means raising taxes. In fact, 70 percent of voters said they would support the recently filed ballot measure to increase gross production tax from 2 percent to 7 percent to fund a significant teacher pay raise.

Free meal boosts parent attendance

Parent/teacher conferences are coming up next month at Capitol Hill High School in south Oklahoma City, and this will be the third year the school hosts a free spaghetti dinner that night, which has been credited for boosting parent attendance, reports KOKH

"We want to reach out to our parents, because we need to hear their voices and what they like about the school, what they would like to see change about the school and we want them to be involved in their kids lives and their kids' educations," said Capitol Hill High School principal Adam Jewell.

That's all for today's Morning Bell. Have a great Thursday!

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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