HOLIDAY HEADACHE: Southern Cross school principal John Baker contemplates the damage at his school, including computers that we
HOLIDAY HEADACHE: Southern Cross school principal John Baker contemplates the damage at his school, including computers that we

School vandalism bill tops $30,000

By CHARLES WOOD

PRINCIPAL John Baker's holiday has been cut short by vandals who caused $30,000 damage at his Southern Cross K-12 School in Ballina.

A frustrated Mr Baker was called to the school yesterday to survey the extensive damage.

Neighbours heard a ruckus at the school around 9pm on Thursday. Vandals had smashed 54 laminated glass windows and doors 6mm thick in 10 classrooms and an administrative office. A $2000 computer, a multi-function phone and an overhead projector had been thrown off a first storey walkway and paint strewn around the floor and walls of an art room.

Mr Baker said the school has been vandalised seven times in the last three months.

"Firstly, I'm annoyed and disappointed that we have people in our community who want to damage public property and, secondly, to target schools which are always going to be under resourced," he said.

Police forensic officer Sloane Hamilton spent most of the day sifting through the damage taking finger prints, shoe sole impressions and DNA samples. She said it would take someone of at least 16 or 17 years-of-age and their strength to do such extensive damage. The intruders apparently used an electric guitar to smash holes through windows and break overhead lights in a maths classroom.

Police found a wallet in one classroom and have interviewed the owner. They are continuing investigations, but no charges have been laid.

Despite being inundated with work from this week's hail storm, a team of glaziers was on site at 10am to begin the task or replacing the damaged glass. Each laminated glass window is valued at between $200 and $300.

It's expected most of the external repairs will be completed before school resumes on Monday.

"We'll make arrangements so it won't be totally disruptive, but there may be some disruption to students entering some classrooms and teachers being able to gather their resources," Mr Baker said.

The school is on the list to have security fencing installed, but the work is not earmarked for the coming year.



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