School vandalism adding up in Chilliwack

Arson and broken windows have school district looking at more preventative measures

Vandalism has hit two elementary schools this month, with playground structured burned at one and numerous windows smashed out at another. The fire took place at Robertson elementary on Sunday night, at an older wooden structure within the school’s playground.

Gerry Slykhuis, secretary treasurer at Chilliwack school district, said that playground will likely be removed sometime this week by staff.

“Our guys will take that out pretty quickly,” he said. “They’ll probably pull the whole thing out and then we’ll have a discussion with the school about replacing it.”

It was a small component of the playground and would cost between $8,000 and $10,000 to replace. While playgrounds are generally funded through parent advisory councils’ fundraising efforts, acts of vandalism fall under the district’s insurance policy.

Slykhuis said vandalism hits the school district in spurts, and that vandals usually hit areas that are in less visible areas of the schools. That was the case the weekend prior, when someone broke about 20 windows at Little Mountain elementary, he said.

The double-paned windows were smashed out in areas that are hidden from public view. While the school district employs security cameras to help identify vandals and thieves, suspects are usually clad in hoodies and dark clothing. The district is considering roll down shutters for some of Little Mountain elementary school’s windows. It’s an expensive but effective tactic in use at several schools already in Chilliwack, Slykhuis said.

“They’re pretty durable,” he added. “It does help, and it is a deterrent.”

jpeters@theprogress.com