Pratt Community College will host an active shooter drill on campus in December.

Pratt Community College is planning ahead for a disaster. With all the terrorist activity in the world, PCC will host an active shooter exercise on campus in December to test their emergency operations plan.

The event was presented to the PCC Board of Trustees at their regular monthly meeting Aug. 14. College President Michael Calvert said the college, emergency management, Pratt Regional Medical Center and law enforcement will all take part in this controlled event on campus.

The new concealed carry law will add a new layer to this event. Those involved will have to be aware of the possibility of a concealed carry on campus during the event.

This active shooter exercise comes after there have been a number of table top exercises. Now the campus needs to have a stronger test to be prepared, Calvert said.

The Trustees approved the proposed budget for 2017-2018 at $20.2 million with an ad valorem tax (the amount Pratt County tax payers pay) at $6.1 million. The mil levy is currently at 39.4 mils and that is a small decrease from last year of 0.2 mils. The mil levy is subject to change once county valuations are complete on Sept. 30. While the mil levy have to move up or down depending on valuations, the ad valorem tax amount will stay the same, Calvert said.

The budget is based on an anticipated three percent decrease in student population from last year. Most of that decrease is from the associate degree in nursing program that has put part of the program on hold to give the staff a year to evaluate the all aspects of the program from the mission statement to the testing procedure to determine strengths and weaknesses and to increase the first time passing rate for the NCLEX exam required to become a nurse. The passing rate for the ADN program for January to June had improved to 71.43 percent and is headed in the right direction but the decision was made to put the program on hold for a year for the self evaluation.

The Practical Nursing program is not on hold and continues to be strong at PCC with higher than national average first time passing rates. Calvert said the ADN program is making progress and he expects good results but it will take time.

"We have hard work ahead but I'm confident we will get our act together," Calvert said.

While Calvert is pleased with this year's budget, he is concerned about changes in property valuations and the impact it could have on the mil levy. The college is prepared to deal with those changes.

The college could not function without the support of local tax payers and Calvert said he appreciates all they contribute to the college. These funds are critical to providing a quality education for students. they also translate into money that goes back into the local economy to the tune of $32 million on the tax investment, Calvert said.

He also appreciates state funding for the school but that has become a double edged sword. While state funds are appreciated, the lack of funding has handcuffed education, Calvert said.

While the college is not happy with the amount of funding, there are many other states that are far worse off than Kansas.

According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, from 2008-2016 state funding for higher education remains far below pre-recession levels. In Kansas, the percent of change in state spending per student is down 22.0 percent. There are 16 states that funding is down more than that. The state with the worst change is Arizona spending per student is down 55.6 percent. The next worst is Louisiana at 39.1 percent.

Only four states have shown increase in student spending: Montana (up 1.8 percent), Wisconsin (up 3.3 percent), Wyoming (up 21 percent) and North Dakota (up 46 percent).

Higher education depends on three sources of revenue: State support, local tax support and tuition. If each of these percentages is about the same, that is the best but with state support falling well behind and equal percentage, the three-legged stool for higher education is way off balance, Calvert said.

Higher education is looking towards private funding to help with revenues. Higher education is late getting into the private funding party but it is an option that is under consideration.

@GaleR_Tribune