Each time the students at Raytown South High School leave Ashley Carter's art class they save the district money.
"At the end of the day we'll have the kids turn the monitors off," said Carter. "Then when they come back in they'll turn the monitors on. That way they're not on when no one is in the building. That way when we have three-day, four-day weekends, or a snow day pops up, everything is already off."
If school is out for more than a few days, teachers unplug everything in the classroom to prevent phantom energy from increasing the school's light bill.
"If every single school district was doing across the nation, just think how much energy that would be saving," said Carter.
District assistant superintendent Travis Hux said these small changes, paired larger ones like updating the HVAC systems in Raytown's 15 schools have lowered waste and saved the district more than half a million dollars over the last year.
"We've had to be very creative in looking for new ways to save money," said Hux. "It seems like every year since the economic downturn that the state budget has dwindled more and more leaving school districts to do the same or more with less."
The district said these savings are especially important because over the last year, it has had to absorb a 21.5% increase in electric rates and an 11% increase in water rates.
"In utilities alone in a year's time, we've experience $375,000 in an increase in utility rates," said Hux. "So, the $500,000 we have avoided spending has helped us supplement that increase in rates."
To be sure everything is running efficiently, the district hired Richard Cusick as part of its energy saving plan.
"Anything that uses power, we're going to take a look at. It's a non-stop process," said Cusick. "Every dollar saved on energy is a dollar saved for education."
The Environmental Protection Agency is taking notice of Raytown's efforts. It's nominated the district for two awards.