School board sizes up Seward situation

Posted: Thursday, October 05, 2000

The roof on Seward Middle School is in such bad condition that the borough plans to spend nearly half a million dollars to fix it

Monday, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education met in Seward and spent the afternoon touring facilities in Seward.

In a work session before the main school board meeting, board members and district officials toured the school and discussed long-range planning for Seward. The educators are concerned that the middle school, located in the 1970-vintage building that housed the old Seward Elementary School, is reaching the end of its useful lifespan.

"Back then, it met code. Today it doesn't meet code," said Dave Spence, the district's director of planning and operations.

The roof at Seward Middle School was removed from the list on the borough ballot's Proposition 1 bond issue because its condition is too critical.

"We just couldn't wait for the bond issue," said Rob Robson, the borough's projects manager.

The roof is due for a $400,000 rebuild starting in the spring. The design project bid was awarded in May to Enterprise Engineering of Anchorage. Construction bid documents are tentatively due to go out later this fall, said John Smith, the project manager for the borough.

Spence explained that the borough will pay for the work, although it is exploring options for getting reimbursed by the state.

More than a year ago, the borough maintenance department was warned that the gymnasium roof was in danger of failure. After further testing and reinforcing, former borough Maintenance Director Dave Eagle recommended that regular use of the gym could continue as long as winter snow loads were minimized. Since that time, the borough has spent extra money to shovel the roof.

The problems were traced to structural difficulties.

The roof was designed in 1968 by a California architectural firm, which failed to allow adequate ventilation for the extremely damp and icy Seward weather conditions. Inspections now show structural damage to the wood from moisture rot and corrosion of metal fasteners, including nails, joist hangers and steel beam support seats, according to a grant application the district submitted to the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development.

In other school board business:

n The board bid adieu to Mari-Anne Gross, former board president, who will be stepping down this month as her term on Seat E ends.

Her replacement, Joe Arness, will be seated at the next meeting.

n The board welcomed its new student representative, Sara Hart from Soldotna High School. The student representative advises the board but does not have a binding vote.

The next meeting of the school board will be at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Borough Building on Binkley Street in Soldotna.

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