BARSTOW• At the end of Avenue G, Barstow Intermediate School has few visitors these days — except for thieves and vandals.
After its closure in 2009, Barstow Intermediate has been fraught with mischief, which Barstow Unified School District Superintendent Jeff Malan called "an ongoing problem."
A recent visit led to the discovery of bright orange and green graffiti on outdoor hallway walls, rows of broken windows and almost every electrical panel ripped off, leaving cut and exposed wiring to dangle lifelessly.
BUSD employs maintenance crews to clean up damages at all of its school sites, Malan said, but he was unaware of the graffiti as of Monday. Now, he said, he'll follow up and make sure a crew "takes care of it immediately."
The district puts approximately $10,000 away annually within their budget to cover such clean-ups, Assistant Superintendent Tony Wardell said — a figure determined by the district's historical associated costs with vandalism.
Just last month, two burglaries were reported at the former school site. And in October, approximately $10,000 worth of copper wiring was swiped from the main electrical room, according to Barstow Police Lt. Mike Hunter.
No arrests have been made so far, but the police investigation into each incident will continue until they do make an arrest or they run out of leads, Hunter said.
The recency and frequency of these thefts have prompted Malan and the school district to become more aggressive in finding ways to remedy it.
Plans include seeking a third-party security agency to perform roving patrols of the premises at different times of the week and possibly hiring a watchman to live on the property.
Wardell said the district has already made "several corrections" to the school in relation to vandalism.
For now, a lack of regular foot traffic seems to be the major impediment to effective security.
Wardell said Barstow Intermediate currently has only two uses: a storage facility (for surplus belongings from Desert Manna and the school district) and a home for the California Highway Patrol's Active Shooter program training.
The law enforcement presence has apparently had little effect on the vandalism and theft. CHP officials last week confirmed the graffiti showed up around November, which was months after they started using the school for training last summer.
The school district will report any major destruction to the school board, Wardell said, and provides the board with a quarterly report of damages and associated costs of all school sites.
An insurance claim can be filed in some instances, he noted.
The district also continues attempts to finalize repurposing the old school.
"The ultimate plan is to lease it out to other agencies," Wardell said.
Following Barstow Intermediate's closure, a Direct Advisory Committee was formed to identify the best new uses for it.
It hasn't been easy to find suitors for the campus. The goal, according to Wardell, is to lease out the property to social organizations such as groups dealing with domestic violence, parenting, counseling and pre-school services.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.