Increased vigilance and better deterrents will be part of the main strategies that will be employed to help decrease vandalism costs in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district this year.
The costs to the cashstrapped school district have plummeted in recent years, thanks largely to the formation of the antivandalism committee, which has members from schools, trustees and police, to develop a multi-pronged approach to decreasing vandalism at local schools. That approach now includes police outreach, community initiatives, student involvement and deterrence devices.
One of the initiatives that is having proven results at a number of the district's schools that have had problems with vandalism in the past is the deployment of Mosquito deterrence devices to deter loitering on school grounds. The devices, which emit annoying highfrequency buzzing that can only be heard by young people, have been set up at Rock City, Uplands Park and Park Avenue elementary schools and Ladysmith Primary School.
RCMP Const. Sheryl Armstrong said Mosquito devices are being considered for deployment at others schools that have vandalism issues, but they are expensive so the committee is considering a number of other effective options as well. "We have a School Watch program in place at a number of the schools and we're looking at extending that into other facilities," Armstrong said Monday.
"Our school liaison program in which our members talk to the district's students about the costs of vandalism and the impacts on them and their schools' programs has also proven effective.
"We're making progress in our efforts to decrease vandalism in the local schools but there is still work to be done."
The costs of vandalism were approximately $90,000 for the whole school year in 2011-12, well below the $158,000 tally in 2007-08 and the $149,000 reported by the district in 2009-10.
Last year, the school board decided to earmark $4,000 for studentdriven anti-vandalism initiatives in each of the district's secondary schools.
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