CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
BURNET — Burnet school district officials have paid for several thousands of dollars of cleanup and repairs due to vandalism on an unoccupied school campus and have taken steps to re-coup the cost through the judicial system.
Vandals struck the former Burnet Elementary School campus Jan. 9 and Jan. 21, causing extensive damage, including broken windows and discharged fire extinguishers.
Burnet County, which was impacted in the first incident in a section the entity leases from the district, was able to re-coup approximately $25,000 in insurance for the damage.
However, the second vandalism incident, resulting in $11,324 in damage and repairs in another section of the unoccupied campus, became the responsibility of Burnet Consolidated Independent School District.
“We reported it to our insurance company but chose not to file a claim based on our deductible,” Superintendent Keith McBurnett said. “We have internally taken care of all of the repairs and cleanup.
“We’re pulling funds directly out of the maintenance and operation (budget) to pay for the people to clean up the area — for example, where fire extinguishers were discharged — or paid to have the windows repaired that were broken out,” he added.
On Jan. 24, three juvenile males were accused of the crimes and arrested, prompting the school district to go through the legal system to try to re-coup the cost.
“We have filed a claim through victims services through the juvenile probation department,” McBurnett said. “It’s very frustrating for the district to have to spend time and financial resources to repair things that were purposely damaged and destroyed.”
Another loss to the district involved materials damaged and/or stolen connected to a nonprofit program that assists students.
“One of the saddest parts of the vandalism, over $3,000 of that damage were dental supplies used by the Smart Smiles program to provide free dental services to Burnet CISD students,” McBurnett said. “They travel around to our Burnet elementary campuses to not only provide screenings but also provide services.
“That’s a nonprofit group doing great things for kids having to go out and get more donations or purchase additional supplies,” he added.
Officials have taken preventative steps to avoid other potential incidents.
“We had added some additional security features in those areas, specifically around cameras,” McBurnett said. “Hopefully, we can deter anyone from ever making that choice again damaging property that doesn’t belong to them.”