Inverse Innovations, an online presence, named Kiowa County USD 422 schools number one in the the world in futuristic school rankings. The Mavericks were sited for having the top spot for energetic classrooms.
Personnel at USD 422 Kiowa County went through a tremendous struggle to provide school space and classrooms for students after the 2007 tornado destroyed the district's facilities. Now, 10 years later, a surprise award naming the Kiowa County Mavericks number 1 in futuristic schools can be attributed to the rebuilding made necessary by that devastating event.
"We didn't have anything to do with applying for this award. We didn't really even know anything about it," said Superintendent Staci Derstein. "But it is a very nice honor, one for which we can certainly thank the architects who helped us design this school."
Derstein was an elementary superintendent when the school was extensively damaged by the tornado on 2007. She, then high school superintendent Darin Headrick, and high school principal Randy Fulton met repeatedly with the architects hired to rebuild the school to discuss ideas and put energy saving plans into motion.
"It was an incredibly busy time," Derstein said. "We were all busy planning this school, rebuilding our own personal homes with our families, continuing with all of our administrative duties. I'm not sure how we survived but we did, and there are a lot of things about this school that we are very proud of."
Kiowa County Schools were named the first place futuristic school by a group called Inverse Innovations with rankings that appeared online earlier this week. USD specifically was called the best in Energetic Classrooms with their "paragon of sustainability." Inverse.com notes that the school relies on geothermal heating and uses natural light as well as an on-site windmill for energy supply.
Unfortunately, the school's wind charger has not been in operation for several months, halted from harnessing wind power because of difficulties with certification.
"When the wind turbine at the hospital went down, we determined it was in the best interest to not use this one until we could find out what the problems with the other one were," Derstein said. "There is nothing wrong with this one at the high school, but the manufacturer is no longer in existence and we are having trouble getting it certified to produce energy again."
Other than the wind turbine trouble, Derstein was happy to say that the other energy-saving measures incorporated into the school's buildings were greatly appreciated and successfully working.
"I really like the polished concrete floors," she said. "They are very low maintenance and while other schools have their staff spending the summer stripping and waxing their tile floors, ours require very little to look nice."
Derstein also said the schools air handling system was the best of the best with CO2 monitors in the rooms and a very clean ventilation system. Geothermal heat and indirect sun for lighting were ideas that were working well.
"Our rooms are actually very bright with the indirect sun light," Derstein said. "It sometimes makes it hard for the teachers to actually darken the rooms enough to show movies. But we do enjoy the low electrical bills for lighting."
So while the award for being number 1 in the nation for futuristic schools is a bit of a surprise the Greensburg-based school system, the reality of living with energy efficient innovations isn't out of the ordinary for teachers and students getting ready to start the 2017-2018 school year. Enrollment takes place August 9 and 10, with the first day of school on Thursday, August 24, 2017.