The School Funding Mosaic

Oregon School for the Deaf

What do a world-class haunted attraction, a TV renovation show, and state-of-the-art bilingual education all have in common?

Funding Our Future

In Oregon, all public schools receive a mixture of Lottery dollars and other state funds to finance their core operations. Voters sometimes pass bond measures for special projects and new construction. But beyond those sources, the schools themselves get creative about finding other ways to finance the stretch goals that invariably result when they dream bigger.

The Oregon School for the Deaf will receive approximately $2.1 million in Lottery dollars this year. That’s a lot of money, but only a fraction of what they’ll need to serve the needs of their very unique student body. And OSD dreams of providing the best technology and facilities money can buy to fully support Oregon’s deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

So how do they go about raising that money?


Very creatively.

Read on to learn how they’ve leveraged killer clowns, reality TV and other unexpected opportunities to give their students not just great tools, but great experiences — and an enduring, inclusive sense of community.

OSD Director Sharla Jones

OSD Panthers

To say Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) Director Sharla Jones is proud of her student body is an extreme understatement. The 100+ students who attend annually come from all corners of the state. Some stay in dorms on campus; others bus in. Two will even fly in this year to attend a school that represents every grade, plus an important adult transition program to help graduates move from their familiar campus into the wider world. “Here,” Sharla says, “they aren’t mainstreamed among hearing students with just an ASL interpreter; at OSD they can all communicate and participate. Here, they can just be themselves.”

Extreme Fundraising!

The Nightmare Factory at OSD

Oregon’s Longest Running Haunted Attraction

Are You Ready for Terror?

It’s been more than 30 years now since the basement of a typical dorm building on the OSD campus was transformed into a haunted lair for unspeakable monsters, crazed clowns and all the jump-scares money can buy. For the price of a ticket, anyone brave (or foolish?) enough can test their courage at The Nightmare Factory.

The popular attraction has grown over the years to almost 13,000 square feet of appropriately dank and dark basement. And, while it’s generally open to the public in the weeks leading up to Halloween, the maze-like rooms remain in place, collecting dust and spooky cobwebs, year-round. It is, during the offseason, one of the most unusual classroom laboratories boasted by any public school in Oregon.

More Than Just Jump-Scares

Nightmare Factory character sketchesThe Nightmare Factory is more than just a fun, seasonal attraction or a way to the Oregon School for the Deaf to raise money beyond what they receive from the Oregon Lottery and other state funds. It also helps OSD students develop marketable skills that could lead to future careers. Painting, makeup design and set construction are some of the more obvious skills students acquire as they work to impart even more nightmares to visitors. But just as importantly, it can help students learn to interact with the public, perform “on stage,” and take on increasing leadership roles.

Many students return over and over, even after graduation, because The Nightmare Factory was such an important aspect of their time at OSD. It turns out that the stuff of nightmares can sometimes be transformed into the stuff of fond memories and a cherished sense of community.

Nightmare Factory Founder

Beyond Fundraising

Thirty years ago, when Kivo LeFevre was a student at OSD, he helped co-founder Ed Roberts set up the very first version of the Nightmare Factory in the basement of his dorm. Today, Kivo is on staff at OSD and continues to oversee the Nightmare Factory. Over the course of three decades, he’s seen it evolve into a world-class haunted attraction. But more than that, he’s watched generations of students participate, learn, and grow through their year-round involvement with the project.

“Students have contacted me years later and wanted to thank me for their experience with the Nightmare Factory,” said Kivo. “It’s really impacted their lives in a positive way.”

Stretch Goals

School gym at OSD

Fundraising Helps Bigger Dreams Come True

Gyms double as auditoriums in many schools. But chairs set on a single level is a less than ideal situation for deaf audiences. For them, sightlines to the stage are essential, as are sides screens to better magnify the actions onstage and the movements of sign language interpreters.

Building an auditorium designed for a deaf audience is the current goal behind much of OSD’s fundraising efforts. It might not happen this year or next year, but with the school’s creativity and dedication, it will undoubtedly happen soon!