The search continues for vandals who drained school buses of oil and contaminated the surrounding parking lot.
The amount of damage caused by vandals who drained motor oil from school buses has increased tenfold -- from $1,500 to $15,000.
Meanwhile, the oil plugs removed during the incident turned up this morning in a cardboard box in the Lawrence High School library.
At some point between 6 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday, vandals drained oil from 41 buses at Mayflower Contract Services Inc., the bus company that contracts with the Lawrence school district.
Tim Dennis, facility manager at Mayflower, said it cost about $1,500 to replace the plugs and the motor oil. The buses were up and running Monday afternoon.
Mayflower's parking lot was considerably more costly to replace. More than 160 gallons of motor oil were spilled in the vandalism incident, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment asked that the oily soil be taken to a landfill.
Mayflower contracted with a Kansas City, Mo., environmental firm to have the lot scraped with a backhoe. As that work wrapped up this morning, trucks hauling about 180 tons of gravel began arriving to restore the lot.
Dennis' estimate of the total damage: $15,000.
"When you get the EPA and the environmental groups in here to clean it up, the cost escalates real quick," Dennis said.
Mayflower had to park its buses at scattered sites around town during work on the lot.
Dennis said he had one other order of business today: picking up the oil plugs from LHS and turning them over to police so they can check for fingerprints.
Monday marked the beginning of senior week at LHS, and Dennis speculated that the oil drainage might have been a senior prank.
A note found on one of the buses Monday morning said to meet at noon at the high school. But Dennis and another Mayflower employee weren't contacted by anyone when they visited the school at the appointed hour.
LHS Principal Brad Tate said seniors apparently struck the school last night or this morning, dousing the second floor with baby powder and stringing toilet paper through locker handles.
However, Tate said, custodians had removed most of the unusual decorations by the time classes started this morning.
"This is a pretty typical senior week," Tate said. "They've strung toilet paper through locker handles since the birth of lockers."
Lawrence police are investigating the Mayflower vandalism.