Costs climb to fix buses

Staff Writer
A total cost for damage done from a vandalism incident Friday has yet to be calculated, but it will go into several thousands of dollars.
Wapakoneta City Schools administrators were forced to delay classes for two hours Friday morning after a bus mechanic found tires on several buses had been punctured. The damage was reported to the Wapakoneta Police Department at 5:58 a.m.
Wapakoneta City Schools Operations Director Mike Watt said it was decided early on that one of the possible intents was to have school cancelled. Watt said he spoke with Superintendent Keith Horner and a decision was made to continue with the school day.
“We spoke about how many buses we could get out and how many we could get ready,” Watt said, noting 30 tires on 24 buses had been slashed. “We decided with a little help from some of the parents bringing their kids, we could get it done. It was a great group effort by everybody.”
Two local auto garages were contacted and responded quickly to help get buses on the road. RRR Tire Service and Miller Brothers Tire Service Inc. were both contacted at approximately 6:15 a.m. Friday and had service trucks at the school bus lot in less than an hour.Jay Riethman of RRR said his company sent four service vehicles to the lot to replace 16 slashed tires with Firestone 560s.
“Mostly it was the steer tires that were damaged,” Riethman said. “We brought four service trucks and just started on one end.”
The tires placed on the vehicles were lower ply wheels that normally do not carry the capacity of heavier ply tire purchased for school buses. The buses were being transported back-and-forth to RRR throughout the day to be balanced and have heavier ply wheels put on.
“The first goal was just to get them out so they could get the school day started,” Riethman said. “They just wanted to get them rolling.”
Watt said there could possibly be further cost if the district is charged for both the lower and heavier ply tires that were used.
Riethman said the cost of the Firestone 560 tires are approximately $425 each.
Gale Miller at Miller Brothers said his company put on a variety of H16 heavier ply tires ranging in cost from $400 to $450 each. The company had two service trucks respond to the scene and all of their inventory was extinguished.
“We we’re contacted and told bring everything you got, we are not canceling school,” Miller said. “Many people from the school were out there helping out and they did a great job getting the kids to school considering the circumstances.”
Miller said buses have also been transporting back and forth to the garage throughout the day to have the tires balanced.
School administrators also had help from a neighboring district, St. Marys City Schools.
St. Marys Business Manager Kurt Kuffner called the school and offered several spares in stock.
Watt said several avenues are being investigated but he could not comment on what those may be. He said he would not comment if there was an alarm on the lot or video surveillance.
Cost needed to be figured in for how much it will cost the district includes the tire and balancing costs, disposal fees for the damaged tires, fence repair for the part of the fence damaged to gain access to the lot, replacing inventory available at the school, and the cost of overtime for personnel