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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  • by What message is being sent? Location: Meridian on Jul 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM
    I heard the kids got probation. So what does that mean? No one mentioned anything about helping clean up the mess or pay anything for the damages. What message is being sent? So others will think oh, I can do this once and get a warning. These kids are also probably some of the major disruptions in school. Severe punishment should be applied for severe actions so not only these students get the message but others will not follow their example.
  • by Michelle Location: Meridian on Jul 16, 2009 at 05:41 PM
    I agree that the kids and their parents should be there to help clean up. Maybe that will help teach them a lesson!
  • by Teacher Location: Meridian on Jul 10, 2009 at 10:28 AM
    One prevalent school of thought currently on the table is that these youngsters are simply victims of their own unfortunate circumstances--you know, victims of society. How can anyone possibly hold them responsible--after all, since exciting activites were not provided for them, they were bored and looking for something to do. I'm going to take liberty and say that I speak for most teachers, we are SO SICK of hearing, "Well, it's not their fault." A fellow-teacher is so fond of saying that even if they have an awful home life, kids who attend public schools are taught proper behavior from kindergarten on up--make no mistake, they KNOW the difference between wrong and right, they just CHOOSE the direction they want to go. Any idea how long it will be before these arsonists will be sitting in the classroom?
  • by Been There Location: Meridian on Jul 10, 2009 at 05:13 AM
    How about this? Make the boys AND their parents spend lots of time helping to clean up the mess.
  • by Wonder Location: meridian on Jul 10, 2009 at 01:59 AM
    I think its a shame that anyone would destroy a school. Because of stupidity and ignorance of vandalizers, our kids cannot learn by having summer school because its been canceled thanks to stupidity of the OTHER youths of whom doesnt care. These boys should be punished and their parents should be punished also. Parents need to start getting control of these kids and not allowing TELEVISION to raise them.
  • by Concerned on Jul 9, 2009 at 06:03 PM
    Why not make the boys help clean up the smoke and soot every day until the job is finished?
  • by Daryl Location: Jackson,ms on Jul 9, 2009 at 05:27 PM
    why not make mom an dad pay
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