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Berkeley Co. tire flattening costs schools at least $550,000

May 08, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Indirect costs associated with the closure of Berkeley County public schools last week because of the flattening of tires on 85 school buses by four Hedgesville High School students are "in the ballpark" of $550,000, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon II said Wednesday.

The bulk of the cost, about $491,000, was the amount of money budgeted for the salaries of full-time teachers and personnel, who still were paid as if they worked that day, Arvon said.

Arvon said the cost estimate also included about $30,600 in food service expenses, factoring projections of cash and state and federal reimbursements for school lunches that would have been served April 30.

Arvon estimated that some fresh food likely had to be discarded.

About 3 a.m., that day, officials said 110 bus tires were deflated and tires on two other vehicles were punctured at the school district's transportation department facility along Harlan Springs Road. Actual damages at the facility, the cutting of the property's security fence and cost of reinflating and repairing the tires did not reach the $2,500 threshold required for a felony count of destruction of property to be filed against the students, according to Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Jean Games-Neely.

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A warrant charging an 18-year-old student with five misdemeanor counts for his alleged involvement in the incident has been issued, but was not served as of Wednesday. Petitions charging three students as juveniles in the incident are expected to be filed, and all four face potential expulsion from school after being suspended for 10 days, officials have said.

"I have had heard nothing but support from the community about this," Arvon said of the school district's pursuit of criminal charges and swift suspension decision.

The district's closure of schools was the eighth day of missed instruction in the 2007-08 school year.

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