$50,000 in Equipment Stolen From School

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -- It's been a couple of weeks since a weekend break-in at Paragould High School.  Nearly $50,000 worth of equipment is still missing.

"They use technology in their instruction and a lot of our technology was damaged or stolen," said Paragould High School Principal Brett Gibson.

"We have had to adjust some of the ways that we provide instruction," said Teacher John Clark.

Several projectors and laptops were damaged or stolen from classrooms in the Paragould School District.

Teacher John Clark said this has made his job more difficult.

"I didn't realize how dependent I'd become on the technology that we've been fortunate enough to get out here in the agriculture building.  We've just had to adjust some of the ways we do the same things," said Clark.

Because of the types of different equipment that were stolen from different classrooms, teachers are using different classrooms that they've never had to use before.

"We can continue with instruction but we're trying to monitor and adjust and our students are having to go to different places on campus," said Gibson.

Gibson said the school district had planned to provide more technology but that funding is being re-routed to replace the almost $50,000 in stolen equipment.  While they hope the insurance money will take care of most of the losses, that doesn't help right now.

"We've made a lot of commitments to have technology in our classrooms and we'll get that back.  The time we lose between now and then is the biggest inconvenience," said Gibson.

"I know that our technology people have ordered the equipment so now it's a waiting game," said Clark.

Police have arrested 19-year-old Dennis Taylor Potter on three felony charges in this crime.  He faces one count each of commercial burglary, theft of property, and criminal mischief.  School officials say the suspect is a former Paragould student.

"Just overwhelming disappointment that someone would to this to us treat us this way," said Clark.

The school has a video security system which police say helped them make the arrest.  Paragould Police Detective Tony Williams said another school, Greene County Tech, has been broken into twice this year.  No arrests have been made in either of those cases.  The burglary at Paragould High School is still under investigation.