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anchoragequake Anchorage School District
An earthquake in November 2018 caused damage at Dimond High School and other schools in Anchorage.

More than $150 million in seismic upgrades needed in Anchorage, Alaska, schools

Many Anchorage schools sustained serious damage in a November 2018 earthquake

Repairs and seismic upgrades at Anchorage, Alaska, school buildings damaged in an earthquake last year could cost more than $150 million, according to updated district projections.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that the latest price tag is triple the district’s initial cost estimates.

Two schools are projected to need more than $20 million to repair and improve seismic performance, six may cost at least $10 million, and improvement projects at 14 sother chools could cost at least $1 million each.

The new estimates include both the repairs needed in the immediate aftermath of the quake and optional improvements that would improve the schools’ quake readiness, says Anchorage District Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth.

“It would bring them up to a higher level of seismic performance so we wouldn’t have the kinds of problems in the next earthquake,” he says.

Among the schools with the highest projected costs on the list: $23.9 million for Gruening Middle School, $23.4 million for East High, $15 million for Bartlett High, $13.6 million for Central Middle School, $12.4 million for Eagle River Elementary and $11 million for Eagle River High.

So far, Roth says, the district has spent $8 million to $9 million on the repairs needed to get its facilities back into working condition in the aftermath of the Nov.30, 2018, quake.

The Anchorage School Board has previously approved $36 million in funding to repair Gruening and Eagle River Elementary, both of which were closed after the magnitude 7.1 quake and are not expected to reopen until at least the 2020-21 school year.

The earthquake temporarily shuttered all Anchorage schools for a week, canceling classes for all students. Students at Gruening have been moved temporarily to Chugiak High, and Eagle River Elementary students have been divided among three area elementary schools.

District officials have previously said they’re hopeful federal emergency funds will pay for most of the repair costs.

Roth says the federal government will cover 75% of reimbursable earthquake repairs, and the state is expected to cover the rest through emergency funds. How much of the needed repairs will be considered earthquake-related has yet to be determined.

“The intent here is to pursue federal and state funding for the repairs, but it’s a retroactive reimbursement process,” Roth says.

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