matsuhoustonmiddle.jpg KVTA-TV
Houston Middle School in the Mat-Su district sustained significant damage in a 2018 earthquake.

Earthquake-damaged Alaska school may not reopen for 3 years

Administrators in the Mat-Su district say repairing or replacing Houston Middle School may not be completed until 2022.

A middle school in Alaska that sustained extensive earthquake damage last year will be closed for two to three more years, officials say.

KTVA-TV reports that Mat-Su School District administrators are looking at two timelines for reopening Houston Middle School—in December 2021 or August 2022. The district is waiting for its insurance company to decide how much repair and rebuilding will be covered.

The school has been closed since the Nov. 30, 2018, earthquake.

MIke Brown, the district's executive director of operations, said the district had three options: tear down and replace the entire building; repair the entire building; or repair/replace combination.

Engineers have told the district the administrative wing and gym could likely be repaired, but that the two-story classroom wing, which took the brunt of the damage from the earthquake, should be torn down.

“What our engineer is telling us is he would not approve a repair, essentially. He’s recommending we upgrade that code,” Brown says.

Another issue is the temporary setup at the Houston Jr./Sr. High, where nearly 800 students from seven grade levels are crammed into the hallways and portable classrooms.

Superintendent Monica Goyette says the district will be making changes to the campus —including the construction of two new portables — over the summer to better accommodate the larger number of students for the foreseeable future.

But she stressed it was still a temporary fix.

The superintendent says it could be up to three months before the district hears back from its insurance company.

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