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Vandalism shatters spirits in Windham

By Heather CondleyRecord-Courier staff writer Published: November 8, 1997 12:00 AM

"It's sickening that something like that has happened when everyone was on such a high," Windham Board of Education member Marilyn John said Friday. "Last night, we had a celebration for passing the levy and then to be called with this news. It's tough to be so up and then brought down.

"I went up to the school this morning and the teachers were crying," John said. "You feel like you've been violated. It's so sad that this had to happen."

Windham High School and Junior High School, which are housed in the same building on Bauer Avenue in the village, were broken into and vandalized early Friday morning, forcing classes to be canceled for the day. Classes are expected to resume Monday.

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The vandal or vandals broke into the building between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. and broke several windows and doors, broke into the library and damaged several computers, and broke into the school offices. Police were called around 6 a.m. after a teacher arrived at the school and noticed the damage.

Windham Police Chief Milford Hagans said the he doesn't how long it will take the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to finish its investigation or how much damage was done in the building.

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Officers from the Windham Police Department were at the school much of the day Friday and representatives from the Ohio Criminal Bureau of Investigation and Identification were called in to take fingerprints.

There are no suspects in the case, Hagans said. While they don't yet know if the vandalism was the work of students, he added that if that was the case, the department might be able to solve the case by students bragging.

"In a situation when there is vandalism, its always a guessing game," he said. "(If it was a student) we might be able to get an arrest by students talking. They like to talk."

On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly approved the district's 2.83-mill bond issue that will raise $927,000 from the district. The levy's approval clears the way for $20.6 million in state building assistance funds that are geared to help replace and repair rundown and outdated buildings of districts in the lowest 10 percent in the state in terms of wealth. Windham is listed as the 11th poorest district.

School officials held a community gathering Thursday night to celebrate the passage of the bond issue and to thank district voters for their support.

The state funds, along with the money the district raises, will be used to build a new high school and a new elementary school, with Katherine Thomas Elementary School slated for demolition. The current high and junior high school building will be renovated and used entirely for the junior high school. East Elementary School also will be renovated.

When the project is complete, the students will be able to take advantage of learning in modern buildings with state-of-the-art facilities, which is what makes Friday's incident so upsetting, school officials said.

While the vandalism brought short the celebration of the levy passage, school officials don't think that the incident will cause residents to have negative feelings about the district, or its students.

"We've basically got pretty good kids here who were happy with the way things were going and happy about getting the new schools. Some of the students were disappointed," said Superintendent Vincent Frammartino.

"I think our community is extrememly supportive. I feel extremely confident that they will continue to support the schools," John said. "I can't say enough how good they are. There are negative people, but you're never going to get those types of people to not be negaitve."

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