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Two Ottawa County School Districts Could Get Money For Annexation

PICHER, Okla. (AP) -- Up to $1 million from the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust could go to the Commerce and Quapaw school districts for annexation of a school district in the area of the Tar Creek Superfund site.

Ottawa County voters are to vote on the annexation of the Picher-Cardin School District on February 13.

Five percent of the Oklahoma Education Lottery Trust is earmarked for the school consolidation and assistance fund, said Shawn Hime, assistant state superintendent.

The amount available is about $8 million, he said. The minimum amount Commerce and Quapaw can receive is about $882,000 and $612,000 respectively, Hime said.

"We have to wait and see how many students of Picher-Cardin transfer before we know the exact amount of money each school will receive," Hime said. "The payment will be a one-time lump sum payment that could be issued as early as August 2007."

The Tar Creek area in far northeast Oklahoma has been a federal Superfund site for more than two decades.

It was a lead and zinc mining district throughout much of the 20th century.

Mining companies left numerous environmental woes, including mine collapses, open mine shafts, acid mine water that stains Tar Creek orange and mountains of lead-contaminated mine waste.

Hundreds of residents there are preparing to move away as part of a voluntary relocation plan sponsored by the federal government.

A federal study released this year showed the Picher School is at high risk of a cave-in. Enrollment plummeted from a high of 442 students in 2005 to its current enrollment of 136 students.
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