The Salt Lake School District will spend $10,000 to assess whether Uintah Elementary School is salvageable.
The Salt Lake Board of Education has agreed to hire the consulting firm of Gillies Stransky Brems Smith to determine the life expectancy and safety issues of the school, 1227 S. 15th East.The board decided two weeks ago to study the issue after more than 100 parents packed the board room to demand that the district deal with the 78-year-old school's problems.
The state fire marshal has cited the school for more than 30 fire-code violations and has threatened to close the school if some problems aren't corrected immediately.
The district is repairing those problems now, but the parents want the building more fully evaluated for seismic and other safety issues. They have argued that it would be shortsighted to extensively remodel the building if it is going to be torn down because of seismic instability.
The School Board is currently evaluating the possible seismic retrofitting of its three high schools. Elementary schools aren't slated for seismic remodeling until around the year 2000. In the district's blue-ribbon seismic study, Uintah was rated the worst of Salt Lake's 27 elementary schools in a moderate to severe earthquake.
Steve Harman, director of buildings and grounds, said the firm's study of Uintah should be completed in six to seven weeks.
The parents have also requested that remodeling or replacement of the aging school be placed in next year's budget. The School Board has refused to commit to a timetable.
Board member Susan Keene wanted other elementary schools with structural problems to be evaluated at the same time as Uintah. She argued it would be better for the district to have an overall physical-facilities package. "Kids living in Central City have the same right to life safety as those on 15th East," she said.
Other board members said they agreed that district plans need to be equitable, but they kept the commitment to evaluate Uintah as a special case.