Schools plagued by vandalism set up tip line
Published Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:10PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:11PM CST
In response to growing concerns about vandalism at Winnipeg schools, neighbourhood residents have been asked to keep their eyes open – and their hands close to the phone.
The Manitoba School Boards Association has set up a tip line for anyone who sees suspicious activity on school grounds.
The association hopes to cut down on destruction of school property and parties on school property during the summer months.
“The residents see something going on – kids on the roof of the school, loud parties at night – they can call the core of commissionaires. They have a phone number, and they’ll send a car right away,” said Keith Thomas of the Manitoba School Boards Association.
Officials from the association said commissionaires will respond to any complaint called in.
To raise awareness about the new tip line, thousands of fridge magnets with the phone number listed were delivered to Winnipeg residents living near schools. The magnets encouraged anyone who sees anything out of the ordinary near a school to call in.
The association is hoping to hear from people like Patti Jones. Jones lives across from King Edward School in the North End and says she’s always keeping an eye on the property.
“If I see anything, I’m the first one to phone. They know me,” said Jones.
But Jones can’t keep an eye on the school all the time, and in May the school’s play structure was vandalized. Now, an empty gravel lot is all that remains.
“They should be engineers because they could find the weak points, and they destroyed it a number of times,” said Spencer Clements, the principal of King Edward School. “At one point it wasn’t fixable anymore.”
The association said vandalism costs Winnipeg schools over $1 million a year and hopes the tip line will prevent that type of property damage in the future.
Parent Kate Orlikow said she’ll be keeping her eyes open and the number handy because teenagers in her area are often hanging out at a school playground near her home in River Heights.
“It’s full of broken beer bottles. As you see, my son doesn’t have his shoes on now, and you have to be careful,” said Orlikow.
Orlikow frequently brings her two-year-old son Ari to play in the park, but worries about his safety. “If there is some way to stop (the partying), I would definitely call.”
The association said it believes the tip line is already working and has receiving about 20 calls per day.
Commissionaires who respond to the calls also do random checks at problem locations and involve police when incidents are serious enough.
The tip line won’t bring back King Edward School’s play structure, but there is currently a fundraising campaign to do just that.
The school is attempting to raise $100,000 to replace the structure. Donations can be made through the Winnipeg School Division.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity at a school is asked to call 204-231-4556.