No seismic work planned at LMS

Seismically retrofitting Langley Middle School isn’t on the South Whidbey School District’s agenda for the foreseeable future.

Most of the maintenance work already completed or in the works for the eight-building campus is mostly routine, though the district’s maintenance staff are currently working on installing keyless entry systems as an added level of security.

“That will make it easy to provide keys for folks that are programmable,” Superintendent Jo Moccia said, adding that keyless entries are also being installed in all of the other district buildings.

A study requested by the district in 2008 showed that bringing the middle school up to seismic standards at the time would cost $4.4 million. The same study revealed flaws consistent with old age, such as masonry problems, too many single-pane windows, soil erosion around the foundations and some deteriorated or missing fittings. The proposed solution was to upgrade the way the buildings are attached to their foundations and to other structures and retrofit them with systems sufficient enough to weather an earthquake.

The oldest structure on the campus is the two-story building currently occupied Island Dance; it was built in 1935. The main building, where the majority of classes are, was originally constructed in 1940, while the original gymnasium went up in 1949. The remaining buildings were built prior to 1969.

Another study in 2009 revealed that basic deferred maintenance costs at the middle school would total $1.6 million, and that additional improvements identified by engineers at the time raised the figure to $6.6 million.

Moccia is aware of the studies, though major improvements are not on the docket. Moccia added that every building in the district needs ongoing maintenance and that the middle school is no exception. While there are currently no plans to seismically retrofit the campus, Moccia said major improvements aren’t out of the realm of possibilities.

“That doesn’t mean things couldn’t change,” Moccia said.

Moccia said the condition of every building is a concern in the event of a “huge” earthquake, and that other buildings in the district could also be seismically retrofitted. It all depends on what the South Whidbey School Board deems necessary, she said.

“It’s just whether or not those kinds of improvements are going to be made,” Moccia said. “…If at some point it is in need of repair, the board will decide what it wants to do and how to do it.”

The lead engineer in the 2008 study also said that several of the older buildings needed seismic, accessibility and system upgrades to allow the school to operate for another 30 years. Asked if she feels the middle school is adequate for long term usage, Moccia said, “At this point, yes.”

The study in 2008 cost the district $11,800, while the cost of the 2009 study was not mentioned in a 2009 Record story.

Long-term usage of the campus may be ahead as plans to fill the middle school with a host of tenants gets underway. Rental rates for 29 rooms were revealed this past week, as the district prepares to transform the campus into the “Langley Community Center.”

It is expected the campus will be occupied by renters later this month or in early October.

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