Bus vandalism leads to closure of Lena schools

Ryan Blackburn

Classes were canceled for about 1,050 students and 135 staff in Lena after bus drivers there discovered something was wrong with all 16 of the district's fleet of vehicles on Wednesday morning.

"They believe that all the buses were tampered in some way," said Jim Norton, a Lena police officer who was called to investigate the incident.

Norton declined to elaborate how the buses were tampered with. He said an investigation was pending and that he could not release any other information.

"We observed that the buses had been tampered with, and they had been tampered in a manner that would prevent them from going out on their routes (Wednesday) morning," he said.

Lena-Winslow School District Superintendent Jane Michael also declined to elaborate on the incident except to say it was only a transportation issue and safety was never a concern.

"I think we need to allow time for some investigation and right now I'm respecting that," Michael said. "And the less information we put out, the better the investigation can go."

Lena-Winslow School Principal Dan Todd said he was not pleased at the situation, but that the missed school day would be made up at the end of the year.

"It's frustrating, obviously, because when the kids aren't in school, they aren't learning and that's aggravating," Todd said. "Whatever day we miss here, we're going to have to add on to the end of the day, and I'd rather do it now and save those days for the end of the summer."

Michael said the school should reopen today.

"Weather permitting, we are on schedule for school today," Michael said. "There's supposedly a pretty significant drop in temperature at this point, but if we don't have school tomorrow it will be due to wind chill."

Still, about half of the elementary school students were disappointed because on Wednesday they were expecting to go on a second field trip attempt to see the play "Charlotte's Web."

"Whoever did this hurt a lot of little kids' feelings," School District secretary Karen Spinhirne said.