No school for RSU 16 after bus fleet vandalized

RSU 16 in Poland says there is no school Wednesday due to vandalism of their school buses. (WGME)

POLAND (WGME) -- RSU 16 says there is no school Wednesday after more than a dozen school buses were vandalized in Poland.

Police say two white males , who used their shirts to conceal their faces, slashed the tires on 22 school buses and one pickup truck at RSU 16's central office in Poland.

A bus driver reported the vandalism around 6 a.m. Wednesday, prompting the district to cancel school.

"There were some punctures that hadn’t gone all the way through. We just didn’t feel any of the buses were road worthy and we needed to evaluate how much damage had been done,” Craig Worth, Director of Operations, RSU 16, said.

Police say it was the only lot in the district where buses were vandalized, but they received several other reports of vandalism.

Another incident was reported at a vacant home on Rosewood Drive in Poland, which is located a short distance from the RSU 16 office as well as a vehicle that was reported stolen on Lower Road in Minot, according to police.

The vehicle was later recovered on Hardscrabble Road in Poland.

Police are trying to determine if they're connected.

The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office has been collecting evidence and looking at video from several cameras surrounding the lot.

The district says they have already ordered new tires and mechanics will be working on repairing the buses Wednesday.

They say students should plan on school Thursday.

"The community has been very supportive and understanding. The surrounding school departments have made offers to help us out with buses if we can’t get buses on the road,” Worth said.

RSU 16 Superintendent Tina Meserve says students will likely need to make up the day, but they will be working with the state to see if there are any options for a waiver.

Meserve sent the following letter to parents about the incident:

“Thank you all for your support. We are still assessing the damage to our fleet but I can give an initial update. All of our Poland buses and trucks have been damaged. At this point it appears to be limited to slashed tires. We have called in an order for the tires and our mechanics will be working hard today to have the buses repaired and ready for school tomorrow.
I cannot give specific information about our security system but we do have security and we are hoping that system will provide evidence that will lead to an arrest.
We will likely need to make up this day but I will work with the State to see if there are any options for a waiver.”

The Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office estimates there to be at least $12,000 in damage.

They say suspects are facing several charges of aggravated criminal mischief, which is a felony.

Anyone who may have information or seen something suspicious is asked to contact either Sergeant Rielly Bryant or Deputy Jon Guay at the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office at 753-2599.

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