Fire and safety officials have delayed closing some buildings on the campus of the State School for the Blind only because plans are being made to address serious life and safety hazards the buildings pose.
But they may not be willing to wait much longer, the superintendent of the State Schools for the Deaf and Blind intimated Friday.Superintendent Thomas Bannister reported to the Administration and Finance Committee of the State Board of Education that serious code violations exist on the campus for the blind, located on Harrison Boulevard, and the campus for the deaf on 20th Street, both in Ogden.
The violations pose potential liability problems for the state if accident or injury occurred at the campus, Bannister said.
Building code problems on the Utah School for the Deaf campus are less pressing, Bannister said, relating primarily to updated seismic requirements. Although updating seismic safety is optional, the question of liability remains the same, he said.
At the Utah School for the Blind, however, he said, "The fire marshal could close us down if nothing is done. They've held off because of our study." Over the past few months, a study has been conducted by Design West regarding the feasibility of consolidating the two campuses. The study was authorized by the Legislature during the 1988 winter session, and $50,000 was provided to pay for the analysis.
Four potential plans have been developed to combine the schools, with price tags ranging from $6.7 million to $9.5 million, Bannister said. The USB/USD Institutional Council has not settled on a recommendation yet, and none was made to the state board.
Bannister said the fourth option, which would consolidate the deaf and blind programs on the Harrison Boulevard site now occupied by the blind school would provide the largest number of new, energy-efficient buildings and could be most
ost-effective over the years to come. It also would be most effective from the standpoint of program goals for the sensory impaired children who attend the residential schools. The estimated cost of this option is $7.7 million.
But because of the state's financial realities, another option that would retain three of the current buildings on the deaf campus and replace those with the most significant code violations may be more attractive, Bannister said. The cost of this plan is $6.7 million.
The existing facilities on the 20th Street campus would require $4.7 million just to bring them into compliance with building codes, he said.
State School Board Member Margaret Nelson said the State Building Board should be made aware immediately of the serious fire and safety hazards on the campuses, particularly in view of the handicaps suffered by students who attend the schools.
The committee asked Bannister to return in October with more figures as a basis for pressing the needs of the two schools.