The Student News Site of Ballard High School



Follow Us on Instagram

Recent classroom break-in results in thousands of dollars of lost equipment

Generational collection of tools and materials stolen from CTE programs
Tansy Velush
John Foster demonstrates a lesson for his metals class. A police investigation is ongoing concerning the stolen items which included two tool boxes and other cordless tools–some over 30 years old–from the woodshop and metals teacher John Foster’s classroom, as well as a 3D printer and a computer from CTE teacher Brian Connolly’s classroom.

Over Spring Break, approximately $25,000 worth of tools and other equipment was stolen from the school. A police investigation is ongoing concerning the stolen items which included two tool boxes and other cordless tools from the woodshop and metals teacher John Foster’s classroom, as well as a 3D printer and a computer from CTE teacher Brian Connolly’s classroom. 

Security cameras captured footage of a U-Haul truck pulling into the North parking lot the morning of April 9. 

“I came in on the Tuesday of Spring Break [around 10:15 a.m.]… and I noticed a couple carts and a vacuum [outside], and I thought, ‘well, this is unusual,’” Connolly said. “As we looked closer and closer, it was just more stuff and more stuff was missing or kind of messed up.”

When contacted about the break-in, Principal Abby Hunt said she could not comment.

This incident follows two recent break-ins that occurred in a similar area of the school. In the instance of April 9, the perpetrator first entered Foster’s office, then proceeded into the woods/metals classroom as well as Connolly’s classroom. 

“They took what was here and busted open one of the big cabinets [in the classroom], [but] it seems they knew that the good tools are in [my office],” Foster said. 

For students in Foster’s classes, the effects of the break-in resonate in their day to day learning.

 “A lot of useful tools have been taken: drills, Bosch impacts, these big snap-on tool chests that alone were worth thousands of dollars,” sophomore Henry Howisey said. “What’s been stolen is just a bunch of stuff that we use in class everyday, it really sucks.”

Similarly, Foster expressed the importance of these tools for the general function of the woods and metals programs.

“The big thing is, I’m constantly fixing and repairing stuff,” Foster said. “I have two options. I can call the district… but I have five overloaded classes every day, so when I have a machine down… I end up fixing a lot myself and maintaining stuff, and so already I’m starting to feel that.”

Beyond their utility in the classroom, these tools are also a testament to the history of the CTE and woodshop programs at BHS.

“So the toolbox that we had here by the door had legacy tools [that were] 30 plus years [old],” Foster said. 

Neighboring public school shop classes have closed due to lack of funding, including Whitman Middle School. As a result, BHS’s shop has collected materials from these programs over the years, amassing tools that have been passed down for generations. 

With that said, Foster expressed that the expenses of his programs are comparable to other school-funded programs. 

“One of the reasons that administrators close down these [programs] is just because it’s expensive to maintain, which isn’t really the case when you compare it to other programs like athletics and band and things that need all this equipment,” Foster said.

Beyond impairing his classes, this break-in also takes away Foster’s ability to repair and create until his tools are replaced, an aspect of his job that he cherishes.

“I’ve had stuff stolen from me before, but I’d say part of it [is that these are] legacy tools,” Foster said. “I like tools, I like to fix stuff, that’s what I do.”

Since the incident, additional security measures have been implemented to prevent future break-ins into these classrooms.

“They’ve put a latch on the door back there, and put little guards so you can’t get a crowbar in between the doors, both on McGinty’s door to the alley and the shop doors here,” Connolly said. 

Foster has also received $20,000 from the CTE Education Department to replace stolen equipment, most of which will not arrive until the school year concludes, as Foster noted.

“A lot of the stuff we ordered isn’t going to be here for another couple of weeks,” Foster said. “So I’m making do with what I can.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Talisman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Ballard High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Talisman

Comments (0)

All Talisman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *