Cameras may teach vandals a lesson at Panorama school

Graffiti vandals have forced a Daly City school to install motion-sensored round the clock security cameras in order to prevent continuous defaming of the school walls.

Armed with only a school closet full of paints and anti-graffiti solvents, Panorama Elementary school’s principal, the parent teacher organization and the Brisbane School District decided it was time to take more drastic measures after a particularly tough fall semester when graffiti appeared at the school almost every other weekend.

“I hate to do things like that — it’s an expense you’d rather use for books and activities and you hate to see your school have cameras,” said district superintendent Stephen Waterman. “Against that we weighed how demoralizing it is for teachers and kids to come to school that’s been graffitied in the morning.”

The school will get infrared, night-vision, motion-activated 24-hour camera that would record any activity, but would not be constantly monitored, said Raul Alcaraz, head of Panorama’s Parent-Teacher Organization and whois in charge of ordering the cameras. School officials have not yet decided how many cameras the school would need and how much the project would cost.

The school’s principal Toni Presta said bored teenagers are probably responsible for graffiti, which has subsided recently.

“My guess is that it’s adolescents hanging out and it’s fun for them for some reason to do this, but I think when it’s cold, they don’t come out here,” she said.

Later this year, the school will be painted from blue-gray to yellow, said Waterman, who added that the lighter color will make it much more difficult to paint over graffiti. In the school’s playground, remnants of years-old graffiti still cover the slide and other amenities that could not be cleaned off.

Panorama is not the only elementary school to be marred with graffiti recently in Daly City. In a double incident Thursday, graffiti was discovered at Bayshore Elementary School and Robertson Intermediate School, both located in Bayshore School District two miles away from Panorama.

Robertson school’s principal Normal Fobert said covering up graffiti leaves a noticeable patch on the walls of the school. Although dealing with graffiti is an expense, Fobert is not considering installing cameras.

“It sticks in my craw that we have to spend district’s money on cameras,” he said. “I don’t know how helpful they will be other than as a psychological deterrent.”

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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