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School district examines costs of seismic study

The South Whidbey School District board will meet in a workshop session today to find out how much a seismic upgrade of Langley Middle School will cost.

The meeting will be 6:30 p.m. in the Intermediate School community room, 5380 Maxwelton Road, Langley.

An $11,800 study was ordered in the spring and handed to the district last month by Seattle consulting engineers ABKJ of Seattle.

ABKJ representatives will be at tonight’s meeting to answer questions, said District Superintendent Fred McCarthy.

Of the eight structures observed, the two-story classroom building is the oldest, built in 1935. The original elementary school was built in 1940, the original gymnasium in 1949 and the remaining buildings prior to 1961.

No signs of imminent collapse were mentioned in the preliminary study, but there were a number of flaws consistent with old age, such as some masonry problems, too many single-pane windows, some deteriorated or missing fittings and some soil erosion around the foundations.

Of primary concern was a recommended upgrade in the way the buildings are attached to their foundations, and how to retrofit them with the latest systems considered necessary to ride out an earthquake.

No cost estimates were made. It said more detailed engineering studies would be required, if the district decides to proceed.

“We want to really grill them about the most essential things that need to be done, and what the cost would be,” McCarthy said. “Then we can make a decision. If it’s reasonable, we could go ahead. If it’s unreasonable, we might look in another direction.”

McCarthy said the district at some point may also order seismic reports on the primary school, built in 1968, and the historic Bayview School, now an alternative facility.

The district is considering putting a multi-million dollar bond issue on the ballot in 2010, when its current bonds are retired. The money would be used to do essential upgrades on the buildings.

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