A three-hour delayed opening at Scotland Elementary School on Tuesday morning was caused by the failure of the fiber-optic cable that connects the school to Barlow Mountain Elementary, acting Superintendent Dr. Robert Miller said Tuesday, May 29. Miller, who also serves as the director of technology for the district, said the schools are still assessing how much the damage to the wiring will cost. He said it was possible that the damage, which cut four of the six lines of fiber optic running between the two schools, was caused by an animal chewing through the wiring. \u201cThe danger is not knowing today what caused the damage, and that it could come back to damage those two lines of fiber,\u201d Miller said. The schools are looking into whether their insurance plan will cover the cost of replacement. School board Vice Chairman Doug Silver asked whether the town would be responsible for the cost, since digging up the wiring will need to be done in the school parking lot. But Miller said the district\u2019s network infrastructure falls on the schools to maintain. The town might help cover the cost of ripping up the parking lot to access the damaged fiber-optic cables. Miller said the schools learned about the problem in the early morning hours Tuesday. After a signal went out indicating Scotland might have lost power, a technician with the school facilities operations went out at around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning and found the school did have power but that there was something wrong with the school\u2019s fiber-optic connection to Barlow Mountain. Police were contacted, emergency protocols were put in place, and a radio was put in every teacher\u2019s hand, Miller said. \u201cIf you remember, last year the radio system was the major capital request. \u2026 Today proved that system,\u201d he noted. He said the good news was that the school\u2019s security procedures worked flawlessly. The radios are a \u201cworst case scenario\u201d for opening school, Miller explained. Throughout the day, technicians worked to route most of the school\u2019s network functions through the two remaining fiber-optic cables. The cost of the damage could be of particular concern. While Miller did not say whether the cost of the repair could jeopardize the schools\u2019 remaining funds, the district has been under a hard budget freeze since September because of unexpected special education costs. For months, the school board expected it might have to turn to the Board of Finance for a one-time appropriation \u2014 essentially a bailout \u2014 to prevent the current year\u2019s budget from ending in the red. Connecticut law prevents boards of education from ending the year in debt. The most recent financial report from the district shows the schools expect to end the year with a balance, after savings were found in the district\u2019s health insurance accounts. That report was written before the damage to Scotland\u2019s fiber-optic cables was discovered, however. The strain of ending out this year \u2014 one marked by financial stress and a record number of storm closings \u2014 seemed to weigh on the board Tuesday night. \u201cFive weeks, that\u2019s all we ask,\u201d said Chairwoman Fran Walton.