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Spending to shut out vandalism at schools

Due to vandalism, electronic exterior shutters have been installed at Kay Bingham elementary. About $100,000 a year is spent combatting vandalism.  - DAVE EAGLES PHOTO/KTW
Due to vandalism, electronic exterior shutters have been installed at Kay Bingham elementary. About $100,000 a year is spent combatting vandalism. 
— image credit: DAVE EAGLES PHOTO/KTW

Kay Bingham elementary is the latest school in the district to have electronic exterior shutters installed — and it’s another cost that doesn’t need to happen, according to Art McDonald.

The director of facilities and transportation said School District 73 spends, on average, about $100,000 a year dealing with vandalism, including broken windows.

“And, that’s $100,000 that could be put elsewhere in the system,” he said.

Similar window systems are also in place at Dufferin, Summit and McGowan Park elementary schools and, at some point, may be a feature at all schools in the district.

“That’s the dream,” McDonald said.

While vandalism at schools tends to remain at a low, consistent level, there have been instances when it’s  been “not normal,” McDonald said, including Bingham, Brock middle school and Barriere elementary, where one student was responsible for breaking almost every window in the facility.

A hot spot, for some reason, remains Summit elementary, McDonald said.

“It could be a lot worse,” he said of the damage.

“It’s money we’re spending that we actually don’t need to spend.”

Different systems have been tried, from a diamond-mesh type of window that resists breakage, but still cracks — “and looks ugly.” McDonald said — to special films that are also break-resistant, but can crack and still leave a pane that has to be replaced.

The shutters are resistant to grafitti, but the reality, McDonald said, is there are no products that will stop taggers from succeeding.

The shutters, which were installed during the Christmas school break, have a coating that is resistant to graffiti.

They can be controlled by teachers so that, if one needs to darken the room to show a film, the teacher can do that. The shutters can also be open and shut by an external control and by the district’s master computer system.

 

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