FEMA grant for seismic retrofit given to Langley Middle School

A seismic retrofitting project at Langley Middle School totaling nearly $1 million is going before the South Whidbey School Board for approval tonight.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave the South Whidbey School District’s pre-disaster mitigation plan a thumbs up and will provide federal grant funding for a seismic retrofitting at the middle school’s main gym; the structure is considered “the greatest safety hazard to address and also one of the more costly projects to undertake,” according to Brian Miller, the district’s maintenance and facilities director.

FEMA will cover 75 percent ($708,874) of the project’s anticipated total cost of $945,165. The grant structure leaves 25 percent of the cost to the grant recipient. The district is splitting the cost with the state and Office of Superintendent of Instruction, leaving the district with a bill of $118,145.50.

The proposed “life safe seismic retrofit” is based on a seismic evaluation completed by Seattle consulting engineer ABKJ and would address several structural concerns: the connection between the roof diaphragm and the walls, the second floor attachment structures and other structural and non-structural deficiencies, according to school documents. The cost estimates were based on similar retrofits done recently for other organizations.

A committee of staff, community members, administrators and a board member have been working with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction on the plan since 2013. It is part of a statewide K-12 Facilities Hazard Mitigation Plan, which pertains to actions that can be taken to reduce the risks of natural disasters.

Miller said in a school document that the next step is to accept the grant and begin the design and bidding phase.

The school board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in the community room at South Whidbey Elementary School.

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