Albuquerque Public Schools sees decline in vandalism

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There have been so many stories about vandals wreaking havoc at schools — tagging walls, breaking windows, and even starting a fire on the roof of an elementary school — but those stories are becoming a lot less frequent.

It’s still an expensive problem, but not nearly as bad as it used to be. KRQE News 13 is learning Albuquerque Public Schools has seen a lot less vandalism over the past decade, meaning more money for the classroom.

“That’s great that vandalism has gone down cause that frees up fund for other things public schools need,” said Mark Schaefer, Albuquerque resident.

When asked why it thinks vandals haven’t been tagging schools or breaking windows as much lately, APS says neighbors are playing a big role.

“The neighborhoods are realizing more and more that the campuses, the school campuses, are very much a part of the community,” said John Dufay, APS Maintenance and Operations.

APS credits more eyes on the schools for the decline in crime.

“We’re getting a lot more community involvement and we’ve even stepped up patrol. We’ve also put in security cameras,” Dufay said.

Cleaning up graffiti can cost a lot of money and man hours. In the past decade, APS has seen a 55-percent decline in vandalism, saving the district hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

“In the past we used to be talking almost $700,000 in vandalism and graffiti, and now we’re in the numbers of $300,000,” Dufay said.

He says the money could be going towards hiring new teachers or fixing up classrooms — something the public is happy to hear.

“I have three grandchildren in Albuquerque Public Schools and I happen to think their education is the most important thing in the world, and I’m happy that the schools are safer,” said Vicki Pelivin, Albuquerque resident.

The district has made a concerted effort over the past few years to upgrade camera systems at schools and add more lighting outside to combat the problem.

The most expensive act of vandalism was at Zia Elementary a few years back, when kids playing with matches on the roof of the cafeteria started a blaze that did more than $300,000 in damage.

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