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Who's Got the Keys?

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Students in the rural Delta (Mo.) R-5 School District made it through the first day of school just fine. They just never made it to the second day.

Instead, they were treated to an unscheduled school holiday when vandals broke into a garage over the weekend and scattered keys to the district's six school buses throughout the building.

Come Monday morning, bus drivers had just 10 minutes to locate the keys and get the buses on their routes. "We were able to get four of the six buses going," Gene Garrison, the district's superintendent, says, "but when you're in a rural district, that's just not enough." School had to be canceled.

The keys were kept in the bus ignitions, and the transportation director had a spare set tucked away in what he thought was a safe place. ''Evidently," Mr. Garrison notes, "this was not the case."

"The unexpected can happen any time," Mr. Garrison says knowingly. "But this was sort of an odd thing to be told on the morning of the second day of school."

At first glance, it looks like a prank committed by students anxious to postpone the start of the school year. But, the superintendent says, students are not under suspicion for this one. "Typically, when kids do something like this, they have to brag about it," Mr. Garrison explains. In this case, not even the kids seem to know who is responsible.

Regardless of who the culprits are, the district has taken steps to prevent a repeat performance. A third set of keys has been made and is being kept "completely away from the garage area--under three locks,'' Mr. Garrison says. Vandals might still be able to find the second set of keys, he notes, "but they would have to go way, way, way out of their way to get to the third set."--jw

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