UPDATE: School buses damaged; vandals flatten tires on 66 Humboldt vehicles
PRESCOTT VALLEY - A majority of the 70 school buses in the Humboldt Unified School District had flat tires due to vandalism Monday morning, May 11, according to a district official.
That made it impossible for HUSD to provide regular bus service to schools Monday, said Dan Streeter, HUSD Assistant Superintendent of Operations.
Schools opened on time, but students - rather, their parents - had to make their own arrangements to get to school, he said. The district expected to be able to provide transportation home at the end of the day.
"In many cases, there was air let out of tires," Streeter said, on about 60 buses. Drivers discovered the vandalism as they began to arrive at about 4:30 a.m. Monday, he added.
"We have not found, to this point, any permanent damage" to the tires, he said.
Prescott Valley Police spokesman Lt. Brandon Bonney said the initial cost to make repairs was $3,500, which he attributed to labor and replacement of parts.
According to police, the damage to the buses consisted mostly of the removing of valve stems to deflate multiple tires on the buses. The repair took outside heavy machinery such as tow trucks to re inflate the tires and make them safe for travel.
The tally on buses impacted was 66 after repairs were made, police reported. "We are working closely as usual with our school district to identify the suspects and continue to work to provide a safe learning environment for our youth," Bonney said.
Streeter said there are security cameras monitoring the area the buses are parked, adding that the district and Prescott Valley police will review videotape to establish when the incidents occurred and whether any suspects can be identified.
The incident was more far-reaching than getting students to class Monday morning. "Field trips for Monday were canceled, (and) classified employees (were) sent home without pay," Streeter said.
"There have been indications that this act may have been perpetrated as a senior prank, but this is not verified," Bonney said. "The fact is that this is a felony and is being investigated as such.
"The use of the word 'prank' in situations like this takes away from the harm it causes," he said.
Bonney said police want to hear from anyone with information about who may have vandalized the buses to call the Prescott Valley Police at 928-772-9267 or make an anonymous call to Yavapai Silent Witness at 800-932-3232.
Follow Scott Orr on Twitter @AZNewsguy. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2038, or 928-642-7705.