Arson investigated at VSS
By Richard Rolke – Vernon Morning Star [British Columbia]
Published: August 19, 2008
Another Vernon school has been the target of arson.
Firefighters arrived at Vernon Secondary School Sunday at 12:30 a.m. to find a stack of lumber on fire.
“It did damage to the door frame of the shop and it got up into the overhang of the roof and scorched the wood,” said Rick Owens, deputy fire chief.
It’s believed someone may have been on the roof of the school prior to the blaze being noticed by a passerby.
“A vehicle was seen leaving the scene. Whether it was involved, it’s not 100 per cent sure,” said Owens.
Members of the Vernon RCMP were also called to the scene.
“It’s still under investigation,” said Gord Molendyk, detachment spokesman.
This is the second case of arson at a local school in the last few weeks.
On Aug. 12, the RCMP received a report of a Molotov cocktail being thrown at Mission Hill Elementary. Only minimal damage was done, and it’s not known when the incident actually occurred.
Officials are not willing to link the incidents at the two schools.
“It’s too early to say if they are connected, but there were two different fire starts and they were quite some distance away from each other,” said Molendyk.
Owens credits a member of the public reporting the fire at VSS, saying that the situation could have been a lot worse.
“If it had gone unnoticed, there could have been a lot of damage,” he said.
The Vernon School District has taken action to try and minimize vandalism at all facilities.
Security officers will be patrolling all schools between now and the resumption of classes in September.
School repairs costly
By Teresa Bird – North Island Gazette [British Columbia]
Published: August 12, 2008
Updated: August 15, 2008
Vandalism is rampant at North Island schools this summer.
In the latest incident, the front doors at Eagle View Elementary [in Port Hardy] were kicked in Monday night.
“The literally kicked in the glass,” said Randy Ball, manager of operations and maintenance for the school district. “they really had to work at it. This is laminated glass the same as in a vehicle. They actually damaged the door kicking in the glass.”
The vandals also took the time to break the branches on the Japanese red maple in the playground area.
“It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to the save the tree,” said Ball.
But this latest damage isn’t the first this summer.
At North Island Secondary in Port McNeill, the front office windows were smashed early in the summer.
“But we found they moved down the building as we boarded windows up,” said Ball. All the windows are boarded now and the broken ones won’t be replaced until school starts.
Vandals have also been busy on the roof of the school.
“There was big fan unit on the roof,” said Ball. “It was kicked off its mounts and rolled off the roof to the pavement below,” explained Ball.
At Sunset Elementary, the large tires in the playground were lifted and rolled down the bank, across the track area and into the wall of the gym at NISS creating “significant” dents in the siding, said Ball.
Back at Eagle View steps are already underway to frustrate vandals. Metal shutters are being installed on all the windows while the school is undergoing a seismic upgrade. But Ball says they had hesitated to shutter the doors.
“We wanted to avoid making it too institutionalized,” said Ball.
Ball said all the vandalism takes a lot of time, effort and work for his crew as well cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars every year.
“I am surprised no one is seeing or hearing anything,” said Ball, adding sometimes they get called out in the middle of the night to deal with vandalism. “This costs major money, especially in glass replacement. We could be working on other things at schools.”
The money spent could be used for other things as well. The school board has been forced to cut services, programs and staffing in North Island schools in recent years due to declining enrolment, increased costs and insufficient funding. Schools at Echo Bay and Quatsino were closed in June to balance the 2008-09 budget. The board may face cutting as much as $900,000 dollars from next year’s budget.
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