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LMS seismic upgrade cut in half

The cost of a seismic retrofitting of Langley Middle School’s eight buildings would be half as much as  previously estimated, engineers say.  - Roy Jacobson / The Record
The cost of a seismic retrofitting of Langley Middle School’s eight buildings would be half as much as previously estimated, engineers say.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

It’ll cost half as much as previously estimated to bring Langley Middle School up to current seismic standards, South Whidbey School District officials were told Friday.

A $3,000 follow-up study by Seattle consulting engineers ABKJ determined that the cost of retrofitting the school’s eight buildings would be about $2.3 million. The previous estimate was nearly $4.4 million.

“It’s good news,” School District Superintendent Fred McCarthy said Monday. “It has us looking at things a little differently.”

McCarthy said engineers determined that fewer sheer walls would be required than previously estimated, and that contingency costs would be considerably lower.

He said that, based on the standard of $200 a square foot to build new structures of comparable size, the cost of retrofitting the current middle school buildings would be only 12 percent of the cost of replacing them.

“I think that puts seismic costs in perspective,” McCarthy said.

School officials and engineers were emphatic earlier this month that the school buildings pose no danger.

“The buildings aren’t on the verge of falling down on the students,” McCarthy said then. “These are very substantial buildings. We are asking questions about their long-term use.”

Of the eight middle school structures, 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.

The original $11,800 ABJK survey revealed a number of flaws consistent with old age.

Highlighted was a recommended upgrade in the way the buildings are attached to their foundations and to each other, and how to retrofit them with the latest systems to withstand an earthquake.

Before they make a decision about the middle school, the district plans to put together a study and survey of all its buildings.

McCarthy said proposals will be solicited in January, and the survey is expected to be completed by spring.

“We will want to see the overrall picture before we make any decisions,” he said.

Meanwhile, the district is considering a multi-million-dollar replacement bond issue in February 2010 to upgrade facilities.

It would replace the current $19 million in bonds that will be retired in 2010.

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