Vandalism is costing Manx schools dear.
In the current school year government workers dealt with 45 vandalism-related incidents at a cost of £8,500 in primary schools and around 50 in secondary schools and at the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education at a cost of £11,000.
Work at Youth Service buildings added a further £5,000 to the bill.
Schools closed for the summer today (Friday) but schools grounds, including playing fields and pitches, remain open for everyone to use.
‘These important amenities are at the heart of our communities and provide space for people to enjoy exercise, recreation and fresh air,’ said Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children.
‘It has long been our policy to have school grounds open to the public to use, even when the buildings themselves are shut for summer.
‘However, those using school grounds are asked to respect their surroundings and not put themselves or others in danger.’
Much of the damage is caused by vandals climbing onto roofs via gutters and low eaves, damaging tiles, slates, gutters, downpipes and skylights.
There has also been a rise in anti-social behaviour, with schools being used for drinking, smoking and other disruptive activity.
The public is asked to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious.
Mr Crookall said: ‘Those misusing school grounds put themselves and others in danger. If someone were to slip and fall while climbing, for example, they may not be discovered for some time. If broken glass is left lying around, a child may get hurt.
‘School grounds continue to be used in an orderly manner by the majority users and very few people cause us problems.
‘Fingers crossed we’ll continue to enjoy the good weather we have seen so far this summer and we can all enjoy the use of school grounds this July and August.’
The Minister also reinforced a stark warning from Manx Utilities for young people to stay away from electricity sub-stations, which came after vandals risked their lives by breaking into an 11,000 volt sub-station in Castletown.
As the holidays near, schools have been reminding pupils to stay away from sub-stations.
Mr Crookall said: ‘The “Danger of Death” signs displayed mean just that and I’d appeal to parents to reinforce this message. Let’s not have a tragedy on our hands this summer.’