CareerTech Tracks Its Lottery Funds
Money pays for equipment upgrades and scholarships.
By Laura Wilson, Writer/Editor
Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education
The money Oklahoma CareerTech receives from the lottery helps educate both the system’s students and its employees.
Since 2006, the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education has received 4.74 percent of the Oklahoma Lottery Education Trust Fund. CareerTech has used the almost $25.3 million to help technology centers and comprehensive schools upgrade equipment and to help system employees further their education.
“We can account for every single dollar of lottery appropriations,” said Jim Aulgur, CareerTech chief financial officer.
In fiscal year 2013, 14 technology centers received grants totaling $1,607,965 to update equipment, from iPads to health and manufacturing simulators to a commercial pumper for fire training. Also in fiscal year 2013, 150 comprehensive schools – public schools that have CareerTech classes – received a total of 251 equipment grants totaling $1,850,849.19.
In fiscal year 2012, more than 200 scholarships were awarded for a total of $122,835. An additional $43,800 went to professional development scholarships. The scholarships help CareerTech educators do their jobs better to help students, business and industry and the state.
“Through the scholarships, we help CareerTech educators gain the skills to be successful in their careers,” said LaMecia Stidham, manager of professional and leadership development at CareerTech.
Roger Smith, a mechatronics instructor at Southwest Technology Center in Altus who received a scholarship while pursuing a master of education in administration degree, said his classes in education administration helped him teach more effectively.
“I feel that the students I teach benefit in at least two ways,” he explained. “First, in matters concerning behavior and discipline, my approach has changed. I handle problems differently and keep and resolve problems in my classroom. Secondly, my students benefit from my experience in counseling and career exploration. I share my experiences and provide feedback to my students when questions of pathways or opportunities arise.”
Ten percent of CareerTech’s lottery money goes to the scholarships, said Lisa Batchelder, manager of the agency’s finance division. The remaining 90 percent is divided equally between technology equipment grants for technology centers and for comprehensive schools.
In fiscal year 2013, technology center grants have paid for collision repair waterborne paint systems, a fire training commercial pumper, training simulators for health care and other programs, computer server farms, visual effect systems and iPads. Nineteen technology center districts submitted proposals for lottery awards, and 14 received funds.
Pontotoc Technology Center received funds to buy iPads, which benefit the entire school, said Susie Overturf, director of information systems. Practical nursing instructors use iPads to monitor and assess students’ clinical experiences, and heavy equipment instructors and cosmetology instructors use them to record video of students’ work for training purposes, Overturf said.
“Students are learning skills for a digital world,” she said. “Their skills are enhanced by using Google Docs, surveys, email, Skype for video conferences and other apps specific to their training areas.”
Great Plains Technology Center Director of Instruction James Bishop said the technology center has used lottery funds to pay for a server farm for the cyber security program and for a motion capture system and server farm for the 3-D animation program. The last two items allow students to create the kind of animations seen in today’s movies much faster than they could before.
“What took four hours takes four minutes,” Bishop said.
The technology centers submit budgets for their projects and are reimbursed as they spend the money, said Joe Robinson, associate state director of field services and technology centers. If there’s a change, a technology center has to get it approved before spending money if it wants reimbursement, he said.
“We know exactly where the money is,” he explained.
That policy is in line with CareerTech’s attitude toward lottery funds in general. The state agency keeps a close accounting of all lottery dollars it receives and starts each year’s competitive grant process only after it receives the lottery funds.
Schools, technology centers and those seeking scholarships all submit applications that include their plans for any money they receive. Because it is a competitive process, not all those who apply will receive funds.
Agency staff members know how much money is available before they begin considering applicants, Batchelder said.
“We only expend the lottery dollars we’ve actually received,” she said.