Helper Middle School Assessment Points to Solutions for Structure Problems


Carbon School District

The Carbon School Board has been assessing the condition of Helper Middle School over the last few months and members have been wondering what they can do about the physical structure of the building to improve its seismic integrity.

A consulting firm, BHB Structural, submitted a report to the district in October concerning the building. The district also had an analysis conducted to see what it would cost to make the structural upgrades and lengthen the lifespan of the school.

The report shows the facility can be used for several more years, but the cost, while not prohibitive enough to look at building a new structure, is still significant. The estimate that came back from the consultant was just under three million dollars.

The building needs a number of things and many of them are related to the structure. The main part of the building was built in 1938 and consists of unreinforced concrete. Problems that were detected include cracks in the walls of greater that 1/8 of an inch and neither the roof nor the floors in that part of the structure show positive wall anchorages. There are also other construction deficiencies that were noted in the report.

The gym and cafeteria were built in the 1950s and that area has some structural issues as well. There is no visible anchorage from the steel floor in the gym or roof members. And, there is no positive attachment between the floor or roof diaphragm and the masonry walls.

It appears the structural upgrade to the building will be the least expensive pathway to bring the building into acceptable seismic condition.

The district is now looking at options to finance the repairs and renovation. The construction renovation would be a major project and would take some real time to do. With the cost of new buildings rising rapidly, the present estimate, while not bringing the building up to complete modern codes, would extend the life of the structure for several years.

“We are relieved to learn that there is a solution to increase the lifespan and safety of the Helper Middle School building,” said Carbon School District Superintendent Lance Hatch. “The school board is now working on how we might pay for these upgrades. We appreciate their support as we work to keep students educated and keep them safe.”

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