THE principal of Banbridge Academy has urged local residents to support the PSNI’s ‘School Watch’ initiative after nine windows in the new school building were smashed over the weekend.
Staff arrived at the school on Monday morning to find the new building - which has not yet been officially opened - strewn with broken glass.
Speaking to the Leader yesterday (Monday), Mr Raymond Pollock voiced his “sadness and disappointment” that the new building which caters for Maths, Technology and Home Economics students, had been the targeted in a “deliberate attack” of wanton vandalism.
“Nine windows in total were broken sometime over the weekend and the classrooms are a mess,” said Mr Pollock. “We arrived at school on Monday morning to find broken glass strewn everywhere and stones lying nearby which were obviously used to break the glass.
“This was quite a deliberate attack on the school and some force would have been used to shatter the double-glazing. The cost of replacing the windows will run into thousands of pounds and will divert much-needed funds away from other necessities such as text books.”
Mr Pollock said the attack is especially difficult in the current financial climate when schools are struggling with reduced budgets - four teachers at the Academy have taken up offers of voluntary redundancy and will not be returning to class after the holidays.
“We would appeal to people living and working in the area to help protect schools from this type of attack and to report any suspicious activity to police,” the principal added. “Apart from the cost, these type of incidents cause huge disruption to pupils and teachers.”
His appeal comes as police in E District launch their ‘School Watch’ campaign to help protect local schools.
“Crime prevention officers, Michelle Wilson and Paula Nicholl, explained the rationale behind the scheme and the need for community involvement.
“The impact of criminal damage such as graffiti and broken windows can have a detrimental effect on our local schools, causing funding to be spent on repairing the damage instead of being used for extra staff to help children learn and on much-needed school resources like books and computer equipment,” the officers said.
“Money is also being constantly diverted from school projects to meet the expense of securing premises with crime prevention measures such as window grills, alarm systems, security cameras and fences.”
Residents can report suspicious activity on school premises after hours or during holidays by telephoning police on 0845 600 8000 or ringing the emergency 999 number.