No Heat Forces Oklahoma School To Close Last Minute
HASKELL COUNTY, Oklahoma - A rural school district that was supposed to have classes as usual Monday was forced to close at the last minute.
Kinta school administrators said its heat wouldn't kick on Monday because the demand for natural gas going to the school was greater than the gas line could supply.
The one school building in Kinta serves Pre-K through 12th grade.
It was an usual situation because the superintendent said it was either heat the school or heat the town.
About 50 students were already at school when they learned their winter break would be extending one extra day.
Empty hallways and empty classrooms, it was a welcomed sight for some students, but not for all.
"Some of them were happy to go back home and go to bed where it was nice and warm," said school spokesperson, Brenda Edwards. "Others were a little disappointed, they were all anxious to come back and get to see their friends and start to work again."
The Kinta School District has been closed the past few weeks for Christmas break.
Edwards said the heaters were kept off most of the break to help keep costs down.
"We had just turned the heat back on and this morning around 5:30, cranked it up so it'd be warm for the kids," Edwards said.
But it didn't take long to notice, the classrooms weren't warming up.
The school building was about 40 degrees when kids showed up to school, so they were directed to the school cafeteria, where geothermal technology is used to heat the building. They were kept here until their parents were notified and school buses could take them back home.
Navitas Utility CEO, Richard Varner, said Kinta's natural gas comes from a small transmission line, not a well.
The school is the town's biggest building. And Varner said it's also one of the largest consumers on the system.
Varner said because the school's heat wasn't turned up gradually, the system was overwhelmed causing gas pressure all around town to drop.
"Probably in the future, this is something we can coordinate a little bit earlier, maybe we start supplying gas a day before, do something so we're not in this type of situation," Varner said.
One home and a few businesses in town lost heat.
The pressure was back to normal by mid-morning and Varner said the supply should meet the demand from now on.
But the school superintendent said it won't have to worry about gas much longer.
The building is currently under renovation, moving away from natural gas.
Electric heat pumps are being installed throughout the building and should be ready in a few weeks.
As for school Tuesday, administrators said it should be in session as normal, though they said there is a possibility that could change.