A principal has appealed to residents driving home at night to detour past their public school, after six vandal attacks this year caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, including disabling a new solar power system.
Batemans Bay Public School principal Tom Purcell has appealed for parents to keep watch on the isolated school grounds “without putting themselves at risk”.
“If any of our parents are travelling home after a dinner or a meeting, if they drove past it would be appreciated,” Mr Purcell said.
He has taken the unprecedented step of appealing for help in the school newsletter, after windows smashed in the recent holidays brought the number of vandal attacks this year to six.
“In term one, somebody put some bins together, took them outside and burned them,” Mr Purcell said.
“We had several windows broken and smashed not long after that. Then we noticed people had been throwing rocks from the vacant lot on our northern side and had smashed our solar panels.
“Seven out of the 20 were broken, plus some instruments. That was $7000 worth of damage in itself.”
The attack disabled the system and the school can no longer generate its own power or feed into the grid, pushing its bill up.
In the worst attack, just before the holidays, the senior playground and an uninsured shade cover installed by the P&C were destroyed in an arson attack.
In another incident, the administration block lawn was damaged by a vehicle doing “doughnuts”.
“Sometimes you would be forgiven for thinking that maybe the same person is involved,” Mr Purcell said.
“These people need to wake up and understand what they are doing to our children.
“Over the years, we have been extremely lucky here. Our community and our kids have looked after our school.
“That is why it is a bit of a shock to get five or six incidents in that period. We are disappointed to think where it might lead.
“Kids and parents come and use it on the weekend and have a fabulous time. I am trying to grab that community spirit, because we are all pretty shocked. We can show some strength and unity and work from there.”
He said students did not understand.
“The kids are upset. I don’t want them worried and thinking that someone is coming to hurt them or someone does not like us. That is not fair.”
He said the senior playground would be out of action all term “and who knows how long we will be without shade”.
“People have said, “why don’t you have one of those high fences around the place with locking gates?
“I don’t think that is what our community is about. I don’t want the kids to have that impression. I don’t think we need to create that culture. We have never had that here and I don’t want to start.”