Damage to New Zealand schools from
vandalism and graffiti has forced the Ministry of Education
to top up school budgets by $11.2 million over the past five
The amount has shocked Otago principals, who say it is money
directed away from classroom teaching, and it is harming
Figures released under the Official Information Act reveal
the Government provided $11,206,056.73 over and above the
amounts already spent by schools from their operating
budgets, to repair damage done by vandalism and graffiti.
Otago schools accounted for a fraction of the total with only
an extra $41,253.97 needed in the past five years.
Otago Primary Principals' Association president Stephanie
Madden said it was money that would now not go towards pupils'
''It's a really unfortunate cost to schooling that we're
having to spend money on what is really a social problem.
''They [vandals and taggers] are harming children's
education. That's a lot of money out of our education
Ministry of Education infrastructure service head Kim Shannon
said schools covered routine vandalism and graffiti costs
through their operating grants, but when a school was faced
with particularly high costs for vandalism or graffiti, the
ministry provided top-ups.
Schools are allocated funding for repairs and maintenance
based on their risk of receiving damage.
Mrs Madden said that most Otago primary schools were in the
low-risk category, and set aside between $200 and $500 in
their operations grant funding to repair damages.
''It's not an awful lot.''
The only time she had applied for a top-up was when she was
at Halfway Bush School and all the copper spouting was stolen
from its buildings, she said.
''The ratbags!''The top-up helped pay for the extra
resourcing needed to fix it.''
Otago Secondary Principals' Association chairman Mason
Stretch said every secondary school's damage repair budget
was different and he had no idea how much each had set aside.
Schools had an idea of what was likely to happen each year in
terms of vandalism and graffiti, but sometimes they had to
apply for top-ups to help pay for significant ''one-off''
incidents, he said.
''A broken window or some spray-painting on a school's wall
could easily be repaired using funds set aside in the budget,
but if it was a significant one-off event - something that
doesn't normally happen - that may require a top-up to cover
the cost of repair,'' he said.
''Sometimes, vandalism is very hit-and-miss. It might happen
once - we had an incident six years ago - but we've had
During the past five years, annual nationwide top-up figures
had decreased from $2.9 million in 2009, to $1.67 million in
Ms Shannon said it was difficult to attribute the apparent
decline to any one factor, but believed it was likely a
combination of more effective school security measures and
increased community crime prevention.
''It is also possible that schools which have experienced
vandalism have had their risk category and funding raised,
and so no longer need top-ups, even though they may be
spending more than they had previously.''
Both Mr Stretch and Mrs Madden said that Otago schools were
investing in security cameras, lighting and fencing, as well
as better alarm systems, to deter vandalism and graffiti.
''Those things dramatically reduce vandalism and graffiti,''
Mr Stretch said.
''There are things schools can do to mitigate or reduce the
effects of vandalism happening.''
Mrs Madden said some Otago primary schools were also
rostering people from their community to walk through the
school so that there was a security presence, particularly
during the holidays.
Mr Stretch said members of the public often wandered through
school grounds, but he believed schools were ''technically''
''If it is security fenced, people wouldn't be allowed
inside. They [schools] have made a clear statement.''