Wind Power Gives Oklahoma Schools a Lifeline During Budget Cuts
By Greg Alvarez
The Oklahoman recently took a look at what the Sooner State's growing wind industry has meant for rural school districts.
Its findings: Wind power has made a big difference.
Oklahoma has faced steep cuts to its state education budget in recent years, but wind payments have helped bridge the gap for many small-town districts.
"We would probably be right there screaming with everyone else about the budget if it wasn't for those (turbines)," said Rob Friesen, superintendent of Okarche Public Schools. The Okarche school system recently added a new gym, built a new elementary school and art center, and a constructed an agricultural and technology building.
"It increases the amount of money you can go out and bond," Friesen said. "Without it, we wouldn't be doing all these projects," Friesen said. "Without it, we would have to pick just one of these projects."
Meanwhile, Robert Trammell, superintendent of Cheyenne Public schools, said wind revenue makes up 10 percent of his district's budget, and wind development helped the Minco public school system build a new high school.
In rural districts short on resources, wind farm revenue can clearly make a huge difference. In fact, researchers from Oklahoma State University recently found wind farms would pay in-state schools more than a billion dollars during the course of their lifetimes.
To learn more about how wind helps small towns improve educational opportunities for students, check out this video:
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.