St Aloysius Primary School parents and pupils fundraised hard to buy shade cloths for their junior outdoor learning area.
But the pupils will have no shelter to start the school year after thieves stole $10,000 in shades from the Redan school over Christmas.
Principal Maree Roache said the outdoor learning space was mainly used by preps and year ones, so the youngest and most vulnerable pupils were disadvantaged by the theft.
“Apart from early mornings, the children won’t be able to use it because it’s unsheltered,” she said.
“It’s a really valuable learning space and an extension of the classroom.
“It’s been rendered useless at this point in time.”
Police are hunting the thieves of the two five-metre shade cloths, estimated to be worth about $5000 each.
Ms Roache said the school community had painstakingly raised the funds for the shade cloths through their walkathon, raffles and school events.
But, as disappointing as it was for the parents, it was the kids who would really feel the impact, she said.
“We spend a lot of time teaching our children about respect for property and our environment,” Ms Roache said.
“To have it wantonly stolen is very disappointing.”
The school is now working with its insurance company in the hope of replacing the shades.
Police said witnesses might have seen the culprits stealing the shade cloths and simply believed them to be tradespeople.
It is not known whether the shades were stolen during the day or night, but police believe the offenders used appropriate tools as there were no signs of damage.
Any witnesses or anybody with information is asked to contact Senior Constable Greg Thomas at the Ballarat police station on 5336 6000 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.