Three more Nanaimo schools are using ‘Mosquito’ devices to discourage young people from loitering on school grounds and to help combat vandalism.
Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations, said the district used money from last year’s annual building maintenance grant to buy the devices, which emit a high-frequency noise that only young people can hear, for Park Avenue and Brechin elementary schools and Woodbank Primary School.
A fourth device will be installed at Ladysmith Primary School.
The first round of Mosquito devices were installed at Rock City and Uplands elementary schools last year.
Sabo said the equipment was ordered for these schools after administrators requested a chain link fence around the covered playground areas, as staff are noticing evidence of partying around the areas.
Vandals recently caused more than $3,000 in damage at Woodbank, prompting the school and community to form a School Watch program.
The rationale behind putting in a Mosquito instead of a fence is to avoid having to lock down the playground after school and on weekends, said Sabo, allowing families to continue using these areas when school is out.
“We’d like to keep [the playgrounds] open if possible,” he said. “They are run on a time clock. We run the devices from 11:30 p.m. until 5 a.m. weekdays and dusk until 5 a.m. on weekends.”
The district has not taken a close look at vandalism reports for the areas around the devices yet, said Sabo, but principals tell him they feel the anti-loitering tool is helping.
“We’re thinking that they have some effect, that they’re still worth investing in,” he said. “The idea is if they hear an annoying buzz, they just might move on.”
Each device costs about $2,500, including installation.
Last year, the district spent about $75,580 repairing damage to school buildings caused by vandals, compared with $148,391 the year before – an almost 50-per cent reduction and the first time the district spent under $100,000 since the 2004-05 school year.
School officials believe the vandalism committee’s efforts to increase awareness about vandalism have a lot to do with the lower numbers.