Dwane DeWeese presented his plan to the Pratt school board involving securing more funds for schools in Pratt.

Dwane DeWeese of Pratt spoke to USD 382 BOE members during the open agenda portion of their August 20 meeting. He came to discuss a large project he is working on to try to secure more funding for the schools in the area.

While attending a forum for the county commissioner candidates at the college, DeWeese said he heard one of the candidates state that Pratt County had taken in $2.8 million with the Ninnescah Wind Farm.

“I thought ‘hmmm, that could be money for our schools,’” DeWeese said. “I’m asking for $150,000 for each of the three schools from the Ninnescah wind farm money, so working with our superintendent and the college, we’ve looked into how the money could be used in our districts and at the college.”

After having the opportunity to tour a wind farm in Barber County, DeWeese said he became inspired by how windmills work and how much they generate as far as power and money go.

“I want to present a packet from the three schools saying what you want to spend the money for, and verify and put together how it’s going to be used,” DeWeese said.

Setting the deadline on the packet for September 4, DeWeese said he is asking for the district superintendents and the president of Pratt Community College to join him over the next few months in presenting to the county commissioners how the money would be spent.

DeWeese said he is going to be ‘in this for the long haul’ as he sees a tremendous need for the schools to receive more funding.

Pratt USD 382 superintendent Suzan Patton, said she plans to speak with the superintendent of the Spearville school district to see how they have managed receiving wind farm money as well as seeking out other districts who have taken similar plans of action.

DeWeese’s proposal comes at a time when funding for schools around the state of Kansas currently hangs in the balance awaiting the results of the November election.

“I’m always going to advocate for public education so those of you on the board know that I’m always going to look for legislative support and right now because we have some moderate legislators who lost their seats, it is very grim,” Patton said. “I know that there are several organizations in the state that are trained to determine what the next move is and essentially what it’s going to look like should we end up with a legislature and a governor who does not support public education.”

Patton said the state could find itself back in the same situation it was in several years ago as far as funding goes depending on the results of the election.

“I think from my standpoint, we just okayed a budget, and that budget could look very different next year because we don’t have funding. So, there are several issues on the plate and one of them will be if changing the constitution eventually gets on the ballot,” Patton said. “There are a lot of ways to spend taxes, and I don’t know that people will understand what that will mean if we don’t have checks and balances. If we lose that, we’ll be at the mercy of a legislature who determines that.”

In other business, four Pratt USD 382 faculty and staff members went to Chicago, IL at the end of June to attend the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference. These four conference attendees each gave brief presentations to the school board over the information and ideas learned while at the conference.

Molly Swank, technology director, said that with approximately 18,000 attendees, the conference was a good place to pick up new ideas and see how other professionals are using technology around the world.

“We had the chance to-- not just go and listen--but to interact with people who basically do what we do every day with technology, so that was fun,” Swank said. “AJ, [Anthony Brown] most of the time, spent his sessions looking at Chromebook ideas, Heather [Teasley] focused on iPads, Summer [Younie] did Canvas, Apple—she took in all the vendors, so we would know what products are out there—and I went to a lot of sessions on special development.”

Swank said that in the last two weeks, 1,205 devices have been deployed to Pratt students: Macbook Airs at the high school, Chromebooks at the middle school, and iPads and Macbooks at Southwest.