All Ocean Springs school buses are up and running now after undergoing repairs to tires deflated overnight, which resulted in delays in getting students to school, Superintendent Robert Hirsch said.
Ocean Springs police went to the School District's bus barn this morning to take reports on vandals letting the air out of the tires of about 30 school buses. Video surveillance cameras at the bus barn will be reviewed, Hirsch said, to try to identify those responsible.
“But I'm sure this will culminate in confusion and a mess,” Hirsch said. “We're doing the best we can.
“Someone apparently climbed the fence and let the air out of the tires on 30 buses, about 80 tires,” Hirsch said. “The whole fleet was hit. As cold as it was last night you have to think someone put in a hard night's work. They're probably frost bit or something.”
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Between 2,000 and 2,500 children ride the bus in the Ocean Springs School District.
Greg Rigdon, director of physical plant and transportation for the district, said 46 of the 49 buses in the district deflated the front tires. Some had both, but at least one was deflated on all of the 46.
He said if happened Saturday, identifying the vandals would be a little easier because they wouldn't have been wearing heavy clothes. Ocean Springs Police are reviewing the surveillance video.
Crews from Sun Belt Rentals and Southern Tire Mart are on site to help air the tires. Jeremy Johnson of Southern Tire Mart said it takes about 10 minutes per tire to inflate to 100 psi. At about 8:15 a.m., about 15 buses remained. The crews have to jack up the buses and use a device called a cheetah to push the sidewalls of the tires out before inflating can begin.
The school district used the reverse 911 call system at 6:10 a.m. to alert parents on their home and cellphones with instructions.
Drivers arrived at the bus barn about 5:30 a.m. to find the vehicles disabled, but were told not to clock in. However, when Hirsch arrived, he told drivers to go ahead and clock in to be paid for the time they had to wait.
Anyone with information should call the Ocean Springs Police Department at 875-2211.