Schools pay out cold cash

September 20, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County education officials spent about $200,700 last school year to repair damage caused by the severe winter.

More than half of the county's elementary, middle and high schools suffered damage, according to a recently released Board of Education report.

Most of the repairs were at the county's newer schools, a fact one school official attributed to a "shake-out" period for new buildings.

In addition, there was $92,700 in damage from vandalism and theft in the 1993-1994 school year, down from $126,300 in the previous school year. Officials attributed the decrease to a drop in the amount lost to theft.

Of the schools damaged by water leaks and burst pipes, Mayfield Woods Middle School was hit hardest -- $73,000 in damage -- when a sprinkler system in the front office malfunctioned and destroyed three computers, rugs, furniture and several phones. The gym floor also had to be repaired.

Burleigh Manor Middle School, which opened three years ago, had roughly $48,800 in damage. Superintendent Sydney Cousin said the problem there was caused by "one pipe that pulled loose that caused the flooding. We had an unusually cold winter. It was the coldest winter in a long time."

At 3-year-old Pointers Run Elementary School, the fifth-grade area suffered $10,200 in water damage because of a leaky hot water pipe. Maintenance workers had to replace the carpet in that part of the school.

At Atholton High School, where more than 20 classrooms were soaked when a hot water system broke down, the damage totaled $36,300.

At Laurel Woods Elementary School, it cost $10,700 to repair damage caused by a hot water pipe that burst, flooding the fourth-grade area with up to two inches of water.

Damage was slight at other recently built schools. At Deep Run Elementary School, which opened in 1990, damage was $245. Mount View Middle School, which opened in 1993, incurred $199 in damage when an eighth-grade classroom flooded, destroying some of the students' work and other paperwork.

Dana Hanna, chairman of the school board, blamed the high repair cost on last year's harsh winter and said it was common for newer schools to have the most severe problems.

"If you went back to check on many of our facilities when they were within the first five years, they suffered from similar shake-outs," he said. Mr. Hanna saie he didn't expect further pipe damage at the newer schools.

The report also found that vandalism incidents on school property increased from 346 in the 1992-1993 school year to 426 last school year, with a repair cost of $50,000, up from $47,800 the previous year.

Although the number of thefts on school grounds increased by three last year, to 57, the monetary loss dropped from $78,500 in the 1992-1993 school year to $42,700 in the most recent year.

Graffiti incidents increased to 85 last school year from 56 the previous year, and the removal cost went up to $7,100 from $4,600.

The theft and vandalism incidents included:

* Phelps Luck Elementary School reported the costliest vandalism among elementary schools, with $3,855 spent, mainly on repairing broken windows and replacing stolen fire extinguishers.

* Harper's Choice Middle School was hardest hit among middle schools. It reported the highest vandalism cost, $1,578, mostly for repairing broken windows and jammed locks, and repairing or replacing fire extinguishers.

Thefts cost the school $1,979, including replacement of speakers, a videocassette recorder and other equipment.

* Wilde Lake High School reported the highest theft loss, $4,641, among high schools. Stolen items included several VCRs, a laser printer, a slide projector and an overhead projector, an electronic tabletop balance, five cassette recorders and a computer.

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