Damage to Anchorage and Mat-Su school facilities totals $24m so far, and is likely to keep rising

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JUNEAU, Alaska (KTUU) - Representatives from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District and the Anchorage School District testified to the Senate Education Committee Thursday about the costs incurred by each district as a result of the Nov. 30 earthquake.

Both districts warned lawmakers that costs could rise as more damage is exposed during the spring thaw.

ASD Superintendent Dr. Deena Bishop told the committee that the district has expended just over $22 million on repairs to schools across the district. However, that figure doesn’t include costs for 15 of the most damaged schools, seven of which are located in the Eagle River-Chugiak area.

The district doesn’t have earthquake insurance on its buildings, but Bishop said that it does have insurance on the building’s contents, which would cover costs from water damage.

Officials from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency began examining damage to Anchorage schools on Feb. 4. Bishop explained FEMA officials have a maximum of 60 days to conduct their work.

The process of obtaining funds from FEMA was described by Bishop as a negotiation as they tour the schools. Following the assessments, FEMA will be able to reimburse up to 75 percent of the costs incurred by the districts.

President Trump approved a federal disaster declaration on Jan. 31 for damage caused by the Nov. 30 earthquake.

Meanwhile, Mike Brown, the executive operations director for Mat-Su Valley schools, testified that the district and borough have spent roughly $2 million on damaged schools across the district — a figure that does not include damage to Houston Middle School.

Brown said the bill for Houston Middle would run into the millions, and it still has not been determined whether or not the school will re-open.