It's going to cost a bundle to increase the seismic safety of Salt Lake City's three high schools, but no matter how much money the school district spends it may not be enough to fix East High School.
That's the conclusion of consultants who assessed the life expectancies of the three schools in light of the district's ongoing effort to make its schools better able to withstand an earthquake.The $50,000 report, prepared by Valentiner-Richardson Design Partnership, was released to the Salt Lake Board of Education Tuesday.
The board is evaluating the data to determine whether to remodel or replace its schools. The report evaluates the seismic corrections, code corrections, energy costs and maintenance costs for the next 40 years, vs. the cost of constructing a new high school - now pegged at $23.9 million.
The report says that it will cost at least $13 million to make seismic and various code violation corrections in the three schools. But, in looking at the needed repairs plus the various other costs spread over 40 years, the price tag for each school is comparable to those of a new high school, the study shows.
One finding stands out in the report: The main classroom building and science wing of the 78-year-old East High School are so structurally unstable that pouring an estimated $4.95 million into them will result in structures that won't collapse in an earthquake - but they still won't be good buildings.
Consultant Stephen Dibble told the board that he doubts it is even possible to fix East so that it would be comparable to a remodeled Highland or West. And even if it were, the cost would be prohibitive, he added.
He said if correction costs to the various code violations were added to the East figures, the total would be $7 million. It would be more practical, in the long run, to demolish East's classroom structure and science wing and build a new, better-designed facility for $10 million, Dibble said.
But the board requested more cost data from the consultants. Board member Lorna Matheson, who represents the East High area, said even though the cost may be too great, she wants costs figures on how much it would cost to make East comparable to Highland so the board can make accurate comparisons.
Here are some of the report's findings on each high school:
EAST - The original classroom building, constructed in 1912, is surrounded by the newer field house and auditorium. The main wing was partially remodeled after a fire in the 1970s. The classrooms are too small for today's high school needs.
"The older buildings have serious structural, mechanical, electrical and code problems, while the newer buildings under contemporary building codes have relatively few deficiencies," the report says.
It says the older building's plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems have reached the end of their expected life and need to be replaced within five years.
The consultants recommend the main structure be replaced, perhaps building a new facility on the current football field and relocating the athletic fields.
HIGHLAND - The newest school, built in 1955, got the best rating from the consultants.
The building's reinforced concrete frame would meet seismic codes with the addition of shear walls and bracing, and the school would be comparable to a new structure. The report highlighted the potential for glass windows lining the corridors to shatter in a quake. The cost to meet seismic codes is estimated at $2.9 million.
The report does recommend minor additions to the music department, shop areas, science department and remodeling in the cafeteria.
WEST - The 69-year-old building would need extensive renovation to its four levels to meet seismic codes, costing $3.1 million.
It also has numerous code problems, but the most serious are in the auditorium, which needs to be replaced.
Also recommended for replacement are the school's old, separate technology building, which is on the National Historic Register, and the school's boiler plant.