Money ‘down drain’
No-one should have to deal with broken bottles, kicked in doors and graffiti first thing on a Monday morning, but that’s precisely what the students and staff of Maraeroa School are having to endure most weeks.
Vandalism is a huge issue for the Cannons Creek primary.
Last year more than $20,000 was spent repairing the school and principal Ali Stockwell says they have spent $22,000 ‘‘ and counting’’ this year.
She says it looks like a group of young people are coming into the school at the weekend and wreaking havoc. All damage incurred is paid for by the Ministry of Education, but that money could be better spent at the decile one school.
‘‘It’s heartbreaking stuff and it’s just money down the gurgler.
‘‘The $40,000 that’s been spent so far could be used for student achievement and helping a heap of kids in different programmes.’’
Damage includes broken or etched windows, smashed doors, damaged playground equipment, dented roofs, broken beer bottles on concrete areas and graffiti on buildings.
Ms Stockwell says the school’s central location in eastern Porirua must make it a drawcard for outdoor parties.
‘‘When I got to school on Monday [last week] one big piece of graffiti just said ‘kia ora!’ so that was interesting, but it’s normally foul language you don’t want kids to see.
‘‘One week we had eight panes of glass with etchings, a deaf boy’s transmitter was stolen from one of the rooms and a bench set on fire.
‘‘Our caretaker spends a lot of his time on the phone to a glass company.’’
The school has an intruder alarm system, which means there have been relatively few break-ins, and cameras have recently been installed.
The school will also use money from its own budget for patrols to check the grounds over the weekend and Ms Stockwell is liaising with the Ministry of Education for a high fence to be constructed.
Young people are now banned from the grounds outside school hours unless they are accompanied by an adult.
Ms Stockwell wants local residents to act as their eyes and ears over Friday and Saturday nights, alerting police if they see anyone suspicious on Maraeroa property.
‘‘What’s happening is sad for the community, it’s a lovely, lovely school and so many children of local people go here.
‘‘I would say it’s young people doing the damage, they possibly live around here and would be known, which is disturbing.’’
Glass underfoot: Maraeroa School principal Ali Stockwell says broken glass is often found on school grounds on Monday mornings. She says students are not affected by what is happening, but they should not have to get used to it.