Carson High graffiti cleanup will cost $20,000 |

Carson High graffiti cleanup will cost $20,000

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

Graffiti costs have exceeded more than $20,000 for the Carson City School District, and Director of Operations Mike Mitchell, who lost money from his operations budget for repairs and labor, is motivated to find new ways to fight tagging.

“Graffiti taggers are forcing us to become more educated as how to graffiti-proof our buildings,” he told school board trustees this week.

He plans to put up more portable cameras at district schools, including Carson Middle School, which 18-year-old Troy Szczotka allegedly tagged, and was arrested for April 5.

Szczotka’s arraignment is scheduled for May 16 on felony charges of placing graffiti or defacing property.

It is punishable by one to four years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. Probation is possible.

The Carson City District Attorney’s Office plans to seek restitution, but continues working on an estimate.

Mitchell said he hopes the lettering on Carson Middle School will be repainted in the next couple of weeks.

Top on his list to fight graffiti is to start using exterior paints that either prevent graffiti from sticking to surfaces or make it easier to wash off.

Some products available on the market are usable not only on concrete and brick, but also metal, plastic and wood.

“It’s a special kind of paint that’s more impermeable so stuff won’t soak into it much,” Mitchell said.

Rick Parmenter, maintenance director at Empire Elementary School since it opened in 1989, already uses sundry products for graffiti removal.

“I’ve tried different things and depending on what’s done, I have different products that I use,” he said. “If they spray it on cinder block, you have a heck of a hard time because it soaks into the pores.”

Empire Elementary School was the latest school tagged in the district, hit April 19 and 20.

The back areas of the portables were tagged as were a brick wall around the library. Mitchell estimates labor at $300.

“It took a couple of days to clean up,” Parmenter said. “The back of the modulars took me a few hours, but I got all the modulars painted one color so that when I do have to paint over graffiti, I’m doing them all the same.”

Although she school had a camera, it wasn’t effective.

“It wasn’t in the right place this last time,” Mitchell said. “But we’ve got some cameras that we’re installing and are portable and relocatable in nature.”

Mitchell said most of the graffiti at Carson City schools is done locally, and possibly even by young adults in their early 20s, as tagging trends in nearby Washoe county indicate.

“It’s just so frustrating,” he said. “It’s so pointless and I really believe it’s all a thrill thing.”

• Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.