OC School District Hit by Burglaries Almost Bankrupt, Cannot Afford Security Cameras

An Orange County school district hit by a spate of burglaries cannot afford to buy security cameras.

In fact, Ocean View School District officials have said it is so strapped for cash it may be forced to sell some of its properties to avoid bankruptcy.

Since November, five schools have been burglarized throughout the district, with culprits taking music instruments, projectors and laptops.

However it cannot take measures to tackle the problem due to an $8 million deficit caused by an asbestos scare earlier this year, where parents pulled their children out of school even after buildings got a clean bill of health.

"This district is on the verge of insolvency. If we don't come up with a plan to take care of an $8 million deficit we have," OVSD assistant superintendent Roni Ellis said.

Ellis said $165,000 had been budgeted for surveillance cameras, but the plans have had to be put on the backburner due to a lack of funding.

It has made establishments such as Vista View Middle School in Fountain Valley easy targets. It was broken into twice last weekend, with no surveillance in place where the thieves gained entry.

The school district is bracing itself for more break-ins.

“I think all the schools are targets… because they are empty over weekends (and) over holidays, Ellis said.

Since October, the district has spent $8 million to remediate three elementary schools. 

They also spend $50,000 a week to bus students from those campuses to schools outside the district, and the expense has driven OVSD to the point of bankruptcy.

The  district may  sell some properties, including their own offices. Other campuses are already being leased out as adult schools. 

Kevin Gomez believes fellow parents have overreacted to the asbestos threat, and thinks Ocean view will have to take drastic steps to correct its finances.

"Just the word asbestos scares everybody…. I don't know how they'll recover that money unless they sell some property," Gomez said.

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