Security increased after break-ins at shuttered Brunswick school

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BRUNSWICK — Police and school officials are increasing security at the closed Jordan Acres Elementary School after several break-ins at the building. 

The Police Department is planning to conduct extra patrols in the area and frequently check the building in an attempt to catch the culprits and dissuade other trespassers, Deputy Chief Marc Hagan said. 

Vandals have broken a window, bored out door locks, cut padlocks on hatches used to access the building’s roof, and inflicted other minor damage to the building.

“We’re just trying to get people out of there,” Hagan said. “We’re trying to secure everything and make sure no one breaks anything else.”

The School Department has been dealing with repeated break-ins at the building for the past year, but cases have “really escalated” in the last month,  department Facilities Director Paul Caron said. 

According to Caron, the department became aware of the problem when it began finding unlocked doors and at first suspected someone was using a spare key to gain access. After the locks were changed, vandals used a drill to break them and get into the building, he added.

Facilities staff have to regularly check the building and close off windows and doors that trespassers leave open, Caron said.

He said he suspects that “kids” playing pranks and looking for a place to hang out are probably responsible for most of the damage. Trespassers set off fire extinguishers, triggering the fire alarms a few weeks ago, and there are indications that people have been on the building’s roof, Caron said. 

The building is partially used for storage by the town and still contains classroom furniture, but there is no evidence that anything has been stolen, he said.

The School Department closed the 75 Jordan Ave. school at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, after a ceiling beam cracked and the School Board determined that closing the building would save money.

Students from Jordan Acres were dispersed to Coffin and Harriot Beecher Stowe elementary schools.

The move fueled anxiety about classroom over-population that has led to a three-year debate on the School Board over whether to address the issue with new construction, renovation or alternate classroom arrangements. 

An updated estimate provided by the town’s architect estimated that it could cost as much as $4 million to perform repairs needed to reopen Jordan Acres. 

The break-ins and vandalism are another indication that a decision on the future of Brunswick’s school facilities needs to be made soon, Superintendent Paul Perzanoski said. 

“The longer the building is vacant,” he said, “the more difficult it is to maintain.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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Boards cover a window smashed by vandals at Jordan Acres Elementary School in Brunswick. The school has been closed since 2011.

The main entrance at Jordan Acres Elementary School, in Brunswick. Security at the school, which has been closed since 2011, is being increased in an effort to reduce break-ins.

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