Bethel Preschool Trashed by Vandals

Vandals trashed preschool classrooms and smashed windows in 13 of the Lower Kuskokwim School District’s vehicles over the weekend.

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LKSD Superintendent, Dan Walker, says it appears people threw rocks at cars parked near the district office. Inside the M-E preschool they made an absolute mess.

“All of the toilets were clogged, the water was left running. We had several smart boards that were torn off the wall. There are computers that were thrown off onto the floor and a few computers that were missing,” said Walker.

A Bethel school was vandalized over the weekend. Photo: KYUK.
A Bethel school was vandalized over the weekend. Photo: KYUK.

The preliminary estimates of the damage exceed $50,000 for the vehicles and at least $50,000 to the preschool. Bethel police are investigating. Walker is hopeful that the school’s camera system can develop leads in the case.

At least 13 of the school's vehicles had their windows smashed. Photo: KYUK.
At least 13 of the school’s vehicles had their windows smashed. Photo: KYUK.

“Our technology folks are going thought video footage right now. I’d be surprised if we don’t have some footage. The question will be if we can identify people from the footage or get an idea of who we need to talk to,” said Walker.

After starting up the new school year last week, nearly fifty families with preschoolers are now waiting again for school to start. Walker says there is no firm timeline.

“Right now we’ve cancelled classes until further notice. Probably later this week we’ll have a better idea of whether we’ll be far enough along getting the building cleaned up so we can have classes next week,” said Walker.

Damages to the school and vehicles is pegged around $100,000. Photo: KYUK.
Damages to the school and vehicles is pegged around $100,000. Photo: KYUK.

Before cleanup goes too far, Walker says his team needs to know whether the air is hazardous from fire extinguishers that were emptied. He says the district can’t simply move preschoolers to another classroom because the facilities have to be licensed.

“We have limited time with them anyway, and we want to do everything we can to maximize the learning time, so we’ll do everything we can to get the facility back up and open,” said Walker.

And in the meantime, Walker says the district wants to look at adding additional lighting outside and cameras.