Pittsburg Schools invest in PPE with SPARK funds

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Pittsburg students have options when it comes to the start of this school year, being able to choose between on-site or remote learning, though the majority are opting to physically come to class.

“For me, it’s more in person because I’m more of a hands-on learner,” said Dylan Middleton, a junior at Pittsburg High School.

Pittsburg schools have adapted to the changes brought on by COVID-19, becoming a one-to-one district, meaning each student has access to a chrome book, if needed.
While CARES Act funds helped make that purchase, SPARK dollars are also coming in handy.

Contactless Temp Scanner

Tom Stegman demonstrates non-contact thermometer at Pittsburg High School

“SPARK is funding that is allowed for counties. It is money that has to be approved by your county commissioners. From there it is approved by the state to help out with everything from small businesses…as well as schools when it comes to the use of personal protective equipment, things that we have to do due to COVID-19,” explained Tom Stegman Chief Operations Officer with Pittsburg USD 250 Community Schools.

SPARK funds won’t be approved until the middle of September, but officials say that purchases for PPE, technology and reopening measures should be reimbursed. With that in mind, the district bought several non-contact thermometers, two for each building. Students can simply step up to the scanner and within seconds, temperature is checked.

“What happens is whenever a student comes into the building we want to make sure it’s quick, and that we can go ahead and receive their temperature. As part of the executive order, we have to check temperatures of students entering the building. So we have two of these ready to go at the entrance at PHS,” explained Stegman.

While this year is sure to be different, both students and teacher seem eager to get started.

“It’s been about five months since our kids have been not only around our staff, but also with their friends, and trying to make sure they understand we want you to socialize, we want you to build those relationships, but we also still need you to do it while maintaining distance,” said Stegman.

The Pittsburg School District is expecting a reimbursement totaling a little over $499,000 from SPARK.


At both the county and state level, the application period opened Aug. 19 for the latest round of SPARK funding for businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19. That application is open now on Crawford County’s website.

The application will close on August 26 at 12:00 p.m.