USDs 474 and 422 to combine in Kiowa County

Hannah Brown
Pratt Tribune
A tranfer of territory is set to take place, combining Haviland Grade School with Kiowa County Schools into one district as USD 422 in 2021. Haviland Superintendent Mark Clodfelter has been hired to lead the USD 422 district following current superintendent Staci Derstein's retirement, whose resignation was accepted in December 2020.

The resignation of USD 422 Superintendent Staci Derstien was accepted by board of eduation members in December 2020, necessitating a changing of the guard at the helm of  the distrcit.

In a letter to parents and patrons of USD 474 on January 13, 2021, Haviland Elementary Superintendent Mark Clodfelter announced that he would be replacing Derstein as 422 superintendent. He also outlined board-approved plans to combine the two districts into one USD 422, elminating the 474 designation, as well as moving junior high students to Greensburg and transferring territory to USD 422.

“At the end of the day, we are driven to do what is best for our students,” Clodfelter said.

He said the decision to combine the two districts  was one that had been thoughtfully, diligently and prayerfully considered by board members from each district.

The loss of students at Haviland, due mostly to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a funding loss of $189,000.

“We began school in August 2019 with 88 students at Haviland Elementary School. We began school in August 2020 with 71 students,” Clodfelter said. “We currently have 69 students. Since the beginning of the year, we have been looking at numerous budget options to make up the loss that 17 students would have generated. The long list of ‘what ifs’ was addressed and due diligence exhausted. It is not possible to cut $187,000 from a budget without the quality of education being impacted in a negative manner.”

Clodfelter also said that many conversations between both superintendents and board chairs concerning the future of education in both districts have taken place. With the timing of Derstein’s departure in mind, the decision was made to consolidate the districts.

Once the transfer of territory occurs between the two districts, two Haviland board representatives will join the USD 422 school board. Haviland will continue to be a K-5 attendance center, but will not longer be designated as USD 474 or have a seperate school board.