Arson, Vandalism Hurting Schools

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was done to Parkview Elementary School in June by vandals who set fires inside.

The cost figure is significantly higher than initially estimated by law enforcement officials. Three juveniles were prosecuted in youth court for the crime.

Meridian School District officials are scrambling to get everything back in order for the start of the 2009-1020 school year. The library, administrative offices, and classrooms were damaged.

"Everything in the building has to be cleaned, from books to curtains, anything that would penetrate with smoke has to be cleaned," said Archie Scarbrough, executive director of operations.

And when Scarbrough says everything, he means it. A clean-up team is set up in the library with the tedious task of painting, vacuuming and cleaning every single book.

The clean-up costs account for the bulk of the $300,000 estimate for repairing the school. Scarbrough broke down the total cost of this arson.

"We had the actual damage caused by the fire. That is about $90,000. Then we have the smoke and soot and that is costing $200,000 to clean everything in the building," Scarbrough said.

The district does have a $25,000 deductible, so insurance picks up most of the cost. But with four separate cases of arson since the 2006 Carver Middle School fire, the district has already paid $100,000 in deductibles.

"The school district doesn't have money to pay the $25,000 deductible each time we have an incident," said Scarbrough. "Currently we are up to $100,000 on four incidents for 25,000. That money comes from the taxpayers and comes from something else they were assigned to."

And while it does seem an unfortunate pattern of arson has started for the district, Scarbrough said he hopes it comes to an end before the cash-strapped schools suffer more from senseless acts of vandalism.


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