More than half the buildings in the Jordan School District likely would collapse during an earthquake on the Wasatch Fault, according to a seismic study.
To bring the district's schools and support buildings up to a standard of earthquake safety could cost nearly $51 million, the report says.But potential earthquake hazards should be considered in a larger - and more expensive - context of building safety, repair and maintenance, Jordan District architect Randal C. Haslam told the school board Tuesday night.
"We need to take an overall look at our facilities and not just seismic (safety)," Haslam said.
The seismic report, prepared for the school district by Reaveley Engineers and Associates, a Salt Lake-based consulting firm, found that the most serious problems are with multistory, unreinforced masonry buildings constructed before 1964.
Ratings of good, fair, poor or very poor were assigned to every structure in the district. Sixteen buildings were rated good; 39 were fair; 41 poor; and 37 very poor.
A good rating means an earthquake would cause minimal structural damage. Fair indicates low potential for building damage or collapse. A poor rating means an earthquake would cause structural damage and probably at least partial collapse, and a very poor rating means the building could totally collapse.
But earthquakes are only one building safety issue the board should consider, Haslam said. "Not to put earthquakes down," he said, "but we've never had a recorded earthquake death in Utah. We have had deaths from fire."
Even if the district were to spend $51 million on earthquake-related repairs, the aging buildings would not be as safe as new buildings, Haslam said.
The district also needs to bring buildings up to fire code and remove asbestos and other hazardous waste, he said. Further, mechanical and electrical systems are not what they should be, and the schools' alarm systems need an overhaul.
The total price tag for the seismic retrofits and safety repairs: about $100 million.
The biggest safety problems are at Riverton Elementary School, Bingham Middle School, Jordan High School and the district administration building, Haslam said. All three schools are more than 60 years old.
In five to 10 years, he said, Riverton's total safety repairs would cost $3.2 million, which is about what it would cost to build a new school. Bingham's 10-year repair needs would cost $8.6 million, he said, adding that South Jordan Middle School was built for $7 million. Jordan High's repairs would cost $9.4 million over the next five to 10 years.
Safety repairs to the district office - built in 1964 for $800,000, and nearly condemned after three recent visits by the fire marshal - could cost $3.3 million over the same time period, Haslam said.
Jordan board president Orr L. Hill said study sessions on the safety issues will be scheduled.