Repairing four lines of fiber optic cable between Scotland and Barlow Mountain elementary schools could cost the district anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000, Acting Superintendent Robert Miller told the school board June 11.

Miller, who also serves as the district technology director, said that technicians have narrowed down the location of the break. They believe the damage may have been caused by an animal chewing through the optic wiring.

Miller said next phase will be to run a camera down the length of the fiber to assess the damage, but only after workers jury-rig a section of old fiber optic, in case the undamaged fiber that remains is severed by the camera rig.

“The last thing you want to do is to accidentally damage the remaining fiber while trying to diagnose the problem,” Miller told the board.

The schools are weighing the cost at a critical time, as the board attempts to land the current school year budget “on fumes,” as board secretary Margaret Stamatis put it.

The schools have been operating under a budget freeze since September.

Miller suggested that as the freeze is lifted at year’s end, the balance of funds held back by the budget freeze could be used to cover the cost of replacing the damaged fiber.