Cost of school bomb threats estimated at $100K
by Joel Danoy
Apr 19, 2013 | 3416 views | 8 8 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Several bomb threats at two Tracy Unified School District high schools in March cost Tracy Unified School District more than $100,000, according to calculations by the district.

Separate bomb threats were made against Tracy High on March 13 and 14, and two more were made against Kimball High on March 14 and March 18. The schools were evacuated each time.

Three Tracy High students were detained around 2:30 p.m. March 14 while they were in class, according to police.

Two of the students are being charged with making terrorist threats and making a bomb threat — both felonies — and a misdemeanor charge of disrupting school, according to police.

Investigators released the third student when it was determined the student was only a witness.

The financial impact — totaling $101,228 — is being felt in three categories: the use of bomb-sniffing dogs during each incident, staff overtime and enrollment funding from the state, according to Jessica Cardoza, spokeswoman for TUSD.

For fiscal year 2012-13, the district has a $8,760 contract with Modesto-based Kontraband Intradiction and Detection Services Inc. for 24 total visits by bomb- or drug-detection dog teams at its schools.

Cardoza said the additional use of dog teams during the threats caused the district to exceed that contracted price by $3,356, or nine extra visits.

A fiscal year is July 1 to June 30.

Besides being used during the actual threats, dog teams were also used on multiple days to check Kimball and Tracy highs before the start of school.

That created the second overrun of costs for the district, which paid $7,872 in overtime for staff members who needed to be present during the morning sweeps.

But the biggest variable in costs is a reduction in enrollment funds the district receives from the state Department of Education for fiscal year 2013-14. The estimated loss is about $90,000, according to Cardoza.

The state pays school districts about $33.50 per student when that student is in school learning for at least three-fourths of the day. With 180 days in the school year, the district receives around $6,048 if a student attends class every day.

During the week of the threats, 2,600 students were absent from Kimball and Tracy highs, according to Cardoza, who noted it’s a “safe estimate” to say three-fourths of those students were from Kimball.

Tracy has about 1,950 students, while Kimball has an enrollment of about 2,100.

“It’s really hard to tell how many students who have been absent anyway, but it’s still a large number,” she said.

The district can apply for a waiver to recover the funds, citing extenuating circumstances, though “the district will most likely be denied” because “these were more like drills and not actually emergencies,” Cardoza said.

“We’re pretty much guaranteed to lose all of that money,” she added.

With a projected $22.7 million surplus at the end of this fiscal year, the district can absorb the hit, but Cardoza noted that “it will be more of a long-term issue.”

Surplus projections are $16.5 million for the end of FY 2013-14 and just under $9 million for FY 2014-15.

The district is also bracing for the funding loss created by the opening of Mountain House High School in August 2014.

A sizable percentage of Kimball’s enrollment is children from Mountain House, and while it’s unknown how many students will transfer, Cardoza said the departure of 600 students would be a $3.6 million blow to TUSD funding.

“When you have the big losses of funding like we’re looking at in the next couple of years, these threats don’t just affect Kimball and Tracy,” she said. “It’s going to be felt district-wide by all of our schools.”

According to Cardoza, the two Tracy High students arrested on March 14 have been expelled and could be eligible to enroll at one of the district’s alternative schools.

If they are found not guilty in the criminal case, Cardoza said they can appeal their expulsion, but they could still be denied re-entry to the TUSD system.

She said the district is submitting the financial losses to the court system for restitution purposes.

“I wouldn’t say our hopes are high for getting any of that money back,” Cardoza said. “While we can’t identify them, we can make an example of them so that other students won’t do this in the future.”

• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or jdanoy@tracypress.com.
Comments
(8)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Point_of_order
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April 20, 2013
Absolutely make them pay!

But one question; why is there is so much staff overtime? There are PLENTY of Administrators at TUSD that are on salary to supervise all 3 sites, why not not use them?
mrmnfallacy
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April 19, 2013
...when will the parents of these clowns involved be invoiced for the $100K, or will these parents claim financial hardship, welfare dependency, or ignorance for the ugly miscreants they raised?
fortheunderdog
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April 19, 2013
As one who has dealt with youths who commit crimes, you cannot always put blame on the parents.
lastword
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April 19, 2013
You mean like the one who is on the run for the Boston bombing?
Icare!
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April 19, 2013
It is amazing that when you hold parents financially responsible for damage their kids cause conduct of their children often improves, maybe not all the time but any improvement is good.
fortheunderdog
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April 19, 2013
lastword........and who shall we blame for your sarcastic/flippant tone?


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