Thursday Aug 19 2010
Whitney High weighs fix for costly vandalism
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
Letters keep mysteriously disappearing off of the Whitney High School sign. And the district’s budgetary pressures are limiting the school’s ability to keep up with vandals that have been targeting the school for two months. “It started with one letter, ‘N,’” said Sue Wesselius, director of Facilities and Maintenance for the Rocklin Unified School District. “Once they figured out they could get them off easy, they started taking more and more.” New Whitney High School parent Melissa Morgan noticed the letters vanishing and figured it was a cross-town rival. “I wasn’t happy about it,” Morgan said. “But it doesn’t affect how I view the school because my first impression is that it was probably another school that did it. Kids don’t have enough things to do in the summer.” Police have little to go on. In fact, Rocklin Police have reported numerous incidents of vandalism across Rocklin this summer including spray painting, broken windows and in some instances of sugar discovered in gasoline lines that have caused hundreds of dollars in damage to cars. “When I first saw the sign, I knew it was a prank,” Whitney Freshman Alex Witt said. “I think it’s just people trying to be stupid and take the letters because it is funny.” School officials aren’t amused. It took nearly six weeks to get a replacement part at nearly $200 a letter and by the time it arrived, more letters mysteriously disappeared. “They are not cheap,” Wesselius said. “They are a metal letter that is bolted on. They were supposed to be vandal resistant but apparently not quite enough.” With the district facing an $8 million deficit, Wesselius said the timing was horrible. “Anytime there is vandalism or any useless, needless destruction of public property, it is disheartening,” Wesselius said. Wesselius said even as school starts this week, students will have to deal with the unsightly sign for a long time to come as the district tries to come up with a better solution than pouring much-needed school dollars into what has become something of a money pit. “So now we are going to approach it from a different angle,” Wesselius said. “We’ll see if a teacher and their art students will take this on as a project and make it kind of their own and do a nice job on it.” The idea is to have students with the supervision of a teacher come up with a paint-on version of “Whitney High School Home of the Wildcats.” The sign would be designed to weather vandals better and be cheaper to fix if they try it again. Morgan thinks the idea is a good use of students’ talents and taxpayers’ money. “I hope it will be nice,” Morgan said. Witt said a student-designed sign will never look like the classy original. “I think that would be a really bad idea because the sign won’t be as cool,” Witt said. Witt wants the district to fix the sign and install security cameras on campus to prevent vandalism in the future. Whitney High School freshman Travis Garabedian said students can find a solution that won’t be costly and could represent the school well. “They should carve it into granite,” Garabedian said. “There are kids in ceramics that could do something really nice.” No plan is set in stone as the district and the principal weigh their options. “My intent is to get it done right away,” Wesselius said.