OREM — As the folks in Wells, Nev., know, earthquakes can take you by surprise, but Provo School District officials want to be prepared.

The results of a $175,000 seismic and soil study for school buildings was presented during the Provo school board's all-day retreat Friday at the La Quinta Inn in Orem. The district commissioned the study last year.

The study didn't discover any schools were drastically unsafe for students right now. But as the district goes forward with making improvements to its school buildings, the study indicates what seismic upgrades 12 schools, all built before 1980, will need.

"Every time we open a building up to do major remodeling, we will take care of the seismic issues," said Provo District Superintendent Randall J. Merrill.

The district aims to use the study in its master plan. The funds for the study come from the $35 million bond which voters approved in June 2006.

The seismic study is by Dunn Associates Inc., a consulting structural engineering firm based in Salt Lake City. The soil study is by Earthtec Testing and Engineering in Orem.

No one school should necessarily be given preference over another, said Paul McMullin, chief engineer with Dunn Associates Inc.

The 12 schools were scored based on seismic vulnerability and retrofit costs. A perfect score is 360.

The schools are scored: Wasatch Elementary, 255; Dixon Middle, 240; Edgemont Elementary, 239.5; Farrer Elementary, 234; Sunset View Elementary, 231.5; Provo High, 229; Rock Canyon Elementary, 227, Provost Elementary, 212.5; Franklin Elementary, 185.5; Timpview High, 136.5; Westridge Elementary, 128.8; Canyon Crest Elementary, 128.8.

Since the district doesn't have money to burn, McMullin advises making seismic improvements incrementally.

"It's better to know about it and start working toward it than to just completely ignore it," McMullin said. "If you're careful and plan well, within 10 years you can address probably 80 to 90 percent of the seismic deficiencies you have."

High priority deficiency items together would cost $167,000, according to Dunn Associates.

The study states that at Provo High there is moderate cracking of concrete in the columns in the northwest corner of the "B" wing, costing $3,000 to fix; partition walls in the gym are too slender to resist moderate seismic forces, $20,800; and stairwells are not adequate to resist forces since many are not connected to diaphragms above, $55,000.

Timpview High's issue is with its bleachers: The connection between the top of the bleachers and the wall is inadequate, costing $5,000 to upgrade, according to the study.

The stairwells at Farrer, Provost and Rock Canyon elementaries aren't adequate to resist forces, and many aren't connected to diaphragms above, Farrer would cost $36,000; Provost would need $15,000; and Rock Canyon would require $33,000, the study states.

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