School vandalism bill starting to add up, trustees told

Labour costs associated with vandalism in the Chilliwack school district were $26,069 last year and the costs of materials were $19,638.

In 2015

In 2015

Vandalism has happened at virtually every school in Chilliwack over the last year, costing the district thousands in labour and materials.

Vandals leave behind burnt playgrounds, broken windows, and crude graffiti sprawled across beloved school walls. At Chilliwack secondary, the graffiti is so out of hand that the required sandblasting treatment has all but destroyed the surface of the walls.

But the school district hasn’t given up, and will continue to find ways to deter vandals and thieves, said Al VanTassel, the new director of facilities and transportation. He provided the school board with a report of the 2015 calendar year’s vandalism at last Tuesday’s meeting, and outlined what they are doing to combat this problem.

He broke down the types of vandalism occurring, from non entry issues like graffiti, window breakage, playground damage, and damage to equipment and security cameras, to actual break-in damage, and vandalism inside school during the school day.

In 2015, the labour costs associated with vandalism were $26,069 and the costs of materials were $19,638. Additionally, the school district pays $9,550 for alarm monitoring, and $65,482 for a security runner.

VanTassel broke down the vandalism costs between elementary schools, and middle and high schools, as well as north and south side schools.

G.W. Graham saw the highest cost of repairs with a bill of $8,576, due in large part to one major incident, VanTassel said. CSS came second in the list at $7,763, but with a higher call volume. CSS had twice the work orders at almost 50, than Little Mountain elementary, which was second on the list for work orders at just under 25 calls for the year.

The costs dropped significantly for the remainder of the schools, with Mt. Slesse middle and AD Rundle middle each over the $3,000 mark.

VanTassel noted that many of the schools with high calls and repeated issues are also situated further away from busy roads, and prying eyes. The district has begun creating “dark campuses” which limit light at night and therefore decrease graffiti. They have also increased the quality of their video surveillance at many sites, so that the video captures distinguishable photos of suspects. They’ve installed roll down shutters at 13 schools and two portables, to decrease break-ins and protect equipment inside. This year, they’ve added roll shutters to the grand hall at CSS to help keep thieves out. And an updated bike storage facility has already greatly reduced bike thefts from CSS in the past two months. They have placed ‘mosquito’ boxes at that location to keep people away at night, and through their increased video camera surveillance have already noticed it’s working.

Groups will come and sit down, look around at the noise, and leave — the exact effect desired.

CHANCE alternate school was the sole school in the district to not have any vandalism over the last year, while Evans elementary and Cultus Lake elementary each sustained less than $100 in

damage.