Vandalism costs in Maple RIdge school district down in 2011/12

After measures taken, fifth straight year there has been a decrease

Vandalism costs were down in School District No. 42 for the fifth straight year in 2011/12.

The district spent $377,361 this past school year to combat, and clean up after, vandals targeting school property around the district, close to $44,000 than the previous year.

Vandalism costs hit high in 2007/08 at $503,623, and have steadily declined every year since.

The school district spent more than $30,000 to replace broken windows last year, as well as $148,391 on operations and maintenance costs. The district paid $193,813 on security services, as well as $1,900 to the District of Maple Ridge and City of Pitt Meadows in false alarm charges.

In all, 705 incidents of vandalism were reported on school property last school year, down from 1,248 in 2007/08.

The downward trend appears to be continuing this school year.

This past July and August saw the lowest number of incidents for either of those months since the district began keeping records in 2005, with 31 and 45, respectively.

While some of the downward trend can be attributed to falling student enrolment across the district, outgoing secretary Wayne Jefferson says the district’s efforts to “harden” schools appears to be working.

The district has installed roller shutters on windows, increased lighting, fenced off undercover areas, and that has proven effective. The district has also resorted to high-tech solutions, such as motion-sensitive sprinklers, the Mosquito Ultrasonic Teen Repellent system, and the Tripwire system, which takes a high resolution photograph of trespassers when they cross an invisible laser.

• To report an act of vandalism or suspicious activity at a public school in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, call 604-466-HELP (4357). The hotline is open 24 hours.