Vandalism ‘could force school redundancies’

The rubble of collapsed  ceilings in one of the changing rooms in the sports hall at St Michael's Grammar School. INLM3311-124gc

The rubble of collapsed ceilings in one of the changing rooms in the sports hall at St Michael's Grammar School. INLM3311-124gc

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A LURGAN principal has warned that he may be forced to make more redundancies in order to cover the cost of continued vandalism at his school.

Gerard Adams, head teacher at St Michael’s, said the ongoing destruction being carried out by youths is costing the school thousands of pounds every year.

St Michael's Grammar School principal Mr Gerard Adams beside the window which was broken to gain entry to the Sixth Form Centre. INLM3311-123gc

St Michael's Grammar School principal Mr Gerard Adams beside the window which was broken to gain entry to the Sixth Form Centre. INLM3311-123gc

In one of the latest incidents, around £20,000 worth of damage was done to the sports centre when thieves stole copper from a water storage system, causing extensive flooding.

Ceilings in the building caved in as a result of the water leaking through from the roof, where the water tank is situated.

The theft of the copper took place some time between Tuesday, August 9, and Wednesday, August 10.

In a separate incident, just days before, teenagers smashed their way into the Sixth Form centre.

They damaged an electronic white board, as well as urinating and vomiting in the classroom.

“I do not get money in my budget for vandalism - I get money for education,” said Mr Adams.

“The more we have to spend because of acts like these, the less we have to spend on education.

“The school was broken into in June, and a white board was destroyed. This time, the replacement whiteboard was vandalised. That’s going to cost me a total of £4,000.

“The replacement of the broken window will cost at least a few hundred pounds, and we will have to erect cages around the windows.

“To do that for all the windows in this particular building will cost something in the region of £10,000. That’s half of a teacher’s salary down the tubes in one foul blow, and that’s really gutting.”

He added: “At the end of the day, when we are forced to put up more and more cages, we end up teaching pupils in places that resemble prisons. That’s not an acceptable situation, but these are the choices we are faced with.

“It’s a horrible environment for young people to be educated in.”

Mr Adams said he does not believe the two latest crimes were carried out by the same people.

“The theft of the copper piping seems a lot more professional, for want of a better word,” said Mr Adams.

“Extensive damage has been caused to the sports centre, and I’m not sure if the students will be able to have PE lessons in September.

“A very significant amount of work will have to be done to make this usable again by the beginning of the school term. We have two weeks to get that sorted out.”

Mr Adams hit out at those responsible for the attacks, pointing out that such crime could cost members of staff their jobs.

He said: “We have had a number of redundancies in both teaching and non-teaching posts in the past year. If the vandalism continues at this level, I cannot guarantee that we can keep the number of staff we have at the minute.

“When I get my budget at the start of the year, I can’t plan to be spending £20,000 or £30,000 on cleaning up after vandals.

“That money has to come from somewhere. The only place I’m able to save that sort of money is by making redundancies.

“I might well have to go to the Governors and tell them that I don’t have the money to employ all of the teachers we currently have.

“It’s a very sickening situation.”

Mr Adams added: “There’s a significant contrast between the kind of people who carry out these acts and our students who take part in volunteering, community work and charity work.

“Our students are making a fantastic contribution to the community, while these criminals are attacking the education of those who attend this school.”