As thousands of eager youngsters started back at Kirkcaldy schools this week, for some the occasion was marred by mindless vandalism at two of the town’s primaries.
Children about to start their schooldays at Torbain Primary on Wednesday were told they had to wait a few days longer after a deliberately set fire damaged part of the school over the weekend.
The blaze caused damage to the school’s staff room and boys’ toilets within the school on Saturday, with fire crews called out just before 2pm.
On Friday at nearby Valley Primary vandals smashed windows, destroyed a metal storage cage, wrecked outdoor play equipment belonging to the nursery, including plants donated by local businesses, and caused damage to the roof and exterior masonry.
The main window to the school reception area was completely shattered giving access into the building where they damaged furniture.
At Torbain parents of youngsters in the nursery and those starting in P1 were told it would be Monday before they could return. All P2-P7 pupils returned as normal, with classrooms reorganised while repairs were carried out.
According to councillor Neil Crooks, the bill incurred by damage would be at least £100,000.
A big community effort, involving parents, is underway to ensure the damaged part of the building is ready for the nursery and P1 pupils who will return on Monday.
Neil Finnie, senior compliance officer with Fife Council, said: “Although the fire damage was confined to the staff room and boys’ toilet, the smoke damage has been significant.
“Despite our best efforts, the classrooms aren’t in a suitable condition for our infants and new pupils. We want them to start school in a safe and pleasant environment and will welcome them back on Monday, when redecoration and cleaning work will have been concluded.
“We apologise for the inconvenience and upset for both parents and pupils, but obviously these circumstances are beyond our control.
“Vandalism not only costs the council large sums of money – which could be used for other vital local services – it also has a direct impact on young children, families and the wider community. Some families may now be struggling to alter working and childcare arrangements.”
Two teenagers were charged with wilful fireraising and reported to the Procurator Fiscal.