Vandalism down 50% in school district

Dealing with the aftermath of acts of vandalism has cost the Okanagan Skaha School District thousands of dollars in recent years.

But thanks to the installation of external cameras and better lighting on school grounds, those acts are on a downward trend, say school officials.

In 2009 there were 375 incidents compared to 181 in 2012.

“Vandalism is down at district schools,” said Doug Gorchak, the district’s director of facilities. “I like to think what we are doing is working.”

The biggest problem the district has is with graffiti and broken glass, caused by people throwing objects at windows.

To combat these acts and others, the district installed video  cameras, put up lights in dark areas and cleared buildings of shrubbery, leaving  people with few places to hide to commit the vandalism.

The effort includes an extra push at schools historically hard hit such as Penticton Secondary School and KVR Middle School.

Subsequently the acts  and costs associated with them have dropped  off. In 2009 the district was spending as much as $75,000 on repairs. That number fell to $28,000 in 2012,

“Students take pride if there are well kept up schools and grounds free of vandalism," said board chair Ginny Manning. "And the less money you have to spend on vandalism, the more you can put into classrooms."

Superintendent  Wendy Hyer said she was glad to see the trend, because it generally signifies a positive school culture.

“It means we are not having to spend the limited dollars we do have to make repairs,” she said. “Instead we can use the dollars to enhance student learning.”

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