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Island schools trashed by vandals

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - While the Guam Education Board turns their priorities to moving Untalan Middle School students from the deteriorating Barrigada campus to the Core Tech facility in Tiyan, other schools are back to battling break-ins and vandalism.

It looked more like a typhoon hit a handful of classrooms at Talofofo Elementary School as vandals trashed the campus over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday weekend. More than 200 students were given an extra day off as faculty and staff cleaned up spilled paint, fire extinguisher foam, and scattered papers from four classrooms, the library and the school cafeteria.

According to Talofofo Elementary School Prinicpal Christine Terlaje, vandals stacked benches to enter through windows. She said, "Things weren't really taken it was more vandalism and just damaging of school supplies and teacher supplies, as well as the school books. There were two computers that they only took the hard drive out of, but that was it. We have TVs that are still here, VCRs and DVD players that are still here, so it really wasn't I guess to take anything - they were just here to damage."

On the northern end of the island, Finegayan Elementary School was also struck by vandals. According to principal John Wesolowski, custodians discovered the office was broken into as well as $800 in damages from graffiti. Both Terlaje and Wesolowski say their schools have neighbors monitoring their campuses after hours, but it's not enough.

The former said, "It hasn't really been happened that often here at Talofofo Elementary, but we're working to see what we can do with the maintenance men to see if we can help secure whatever we can and If all possible there's enough money then sure let's have some security walking around but I know it's not feasible at this time. So we do what we can."

Wesolowski added, "It would be nice if we could at least get cameras and other types of security in the schools or even the on site security at this point but those, of course, cost money." He added, "I understand the lack of money but it does make it frustrating at the schools with the loss of items and the hassle of putting things back together."

According to Department of Education interim superintendent Taling Taitano, only the island's leased schools have surveillance equipment, which include Astumbo, Liguan, and Adacao Elementary Schools and Okkodo and John F. Kennedy High School and the Core Tech facility in Tiyan. Taitano adds that some schools have worked with parent teacher organizations and private businesses to purchase preventative equipment.

In the meantime, DOE is looking into alternative ways to monitor campuses after hours. 

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