Vandals destroy six surveillance cameras at Nunaka Valley Elementary
In less than a week, vandals destroyed a total of six security cameras hanging outside of Nunaka Valley Elementary's building in two separate incidents.
"We've pieced together the security footage that we were able to get," principal Tim Blake said. "It looks like they accessed the roof through some of the trees around the building, so we're having those trees taken out now. They threw some heavy things down on the outside of the security cameras themselves and disconnected them from the cables. Just sort of bashed them and took them."
Blake calls the situation disappointing, saying the elementary school has great support from the community.
"We welcome people onto our playground all weekend," he said. "Every weekend there are typically families out here with children playing."
He says the school is working with the Anchorage Police Department on the ongoing investigation.
"From the footage that we have, we think maybe it was some teenagers," he said. "That's a very, very small percentage of what's a super supportive and valued community here at Nunaka Valley."
Tom Roth, the district's chief operating officer, estimates replacing the cameras and cutting down the trees around the building to prevent future attempts of using them to climb onto the roof will cost around $100,000.
"I'm disappointed that we have that kind of vandalism happening at our schools," Roth said. "These schools, they belong to the community. This is a neighborhood school. I don't own the school. The principal doesn't own the school. The community does."
That's money the district would rather see go into classrooms.
"We generally say a teacher's salary and benefits is about $100,000, just as a planning factor," he said. "If I say $100,000, in a lot of people's minds, that's one less teacher the district can hire."
Blake said the cameras are used to help keep the building secure during off-hours and weekends.
"We're a safe campus, with or without cameras," he said. "We have secure hallways and secure doorways throughout the school days."
His message to the people responsible for the actions is to think about the impact.
"It's just so destructive and counterproductive to what we're trying to do here as a school, a district and with our community," he said.
The district says it will likely finish with tree removal in the next few days and are working to order new cameras.