Pratt High School students could be going into business right in their classrooms, if discussions at Monday’s Board of Education meeting are converted to action.
“A long-term goal is to strengthen the career and technical program,” Superintendent Suzan Patton said, explaining that she had intentionally put more money into the program and that further investment would be necessary.
In a tour that included a stop in the old portion of PHS that was the Pedigo Building, Patton discussed plans to move the woodworking classes upstairs into an area now occupied by welding classes. This would provide space where students could build sheds and gazebos to sell in the community. Money from sales would go back into the program to purchase supplies for the next project and for equipment upgrades.
Three local contractors have looked at the potential remodeling project, but no bids have been submitted as yet.
“We want to get started as soon as possible,” Patton said.
While construction occurs, woodshop and welding could move in together. It’s not ideal, PHS Principal Steve Blankenship said, but could be managed under the alternating days of the block schedule.
The program would tie woodworking, business and marketing classes together, Blankenship said, in answer to a question from BOE member Mark Fincham.
Welding classes might also go into business, building trailers.
Asked about a similar potential for the automotive classes, Blankenship said they are exploratory in nature, allowing students to gain experience while working on their own cars.
Upgrading to a level that would grant industry certification would be very expensive, with individual pieces of equipment in the $20,000 to $50,000 range. A few PHS students have taken advantage of automotive programs at Pratt Community College, which offers a 10-course program to certification.
Moving the woodworking program would create a large space that could be converted to a suite of rooms for special education classes, currently located near the commons area.
That frees up a convenient spot for a bookstore — someone termed it “Frog Closet” — managed by business classes, where Greenback memorabilia and necessary school supplies could be purchased.
Digital media and photography classes at Dodge City High School produce many of the district’s marketing products; PHS Activities Director Curtis Nightingale thinks a similar program, on a limited basis, could work here.
School calendars and sports posters could be designed by students, with resources available. The contract with the company now selling the advertising and producing the posters is expiring, he said, so now is a good time to make a decision.
“We could do that,” he said. “We could be a little more self-sufficient, less reliant on capitol outlay.”
Dodge City students also produce banners and T-shirts, Nightingale said. Revenue goes back into the program.
He was told by the activities director there, “the CTE department is all over this. I’ve got more money than there is equipment to buy.”
“I like it, but I think we could get in over our heads,” BOE member Bill Skaggs said. “We’ve got to figure out how to go in slowly.”
Nightingale agreed with board members that care would have to be exercised so production of marketing products didn’t take over digital classes, but be just a segment of them.
More discussion of the marketing program is expected at the January meeting.