Anchorage school board votes to repair Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle schools, rather than rebuild

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — The Anchorage School Board voted on Monday to make repairs to earthquake damaged Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle schools, with six nays and one not present to vote.

The district will use $36.3 million to repair the buildings and make seismic upgrades. They chose that option over demolishing and rebuilding, which ASD said would cost around $119 million.

Original story

The Anchorage School Board is taking up a vote at Monday night’s regular meeting to pay for repairs and seismic upgrades to Eagle River Elementary and Greuning Middle Schools.

After gathering information via an ad hoc committee working with area residents on how to move forward with the earthquake damaged schools, ASD is recommending spending just over $36 million total to get both schools opened up as soon as possible — $12.1 million for Eagle River Elementary and $24.2 million for Gruening Middle School.

"That is our priority is getting those two schools up and running,” Board President Starr Marsett said. “We need to get the kids back in their schools with their teachers, with their principals.”

ASD says repairing the schools will be more cost-effective than the approximately $110 million it would cost to demolish and rebuild. Marsett says if the board does approve the repair funds, she’s hopeful the schools would open up for the 2020-2021 school year.

“The important thing is we wanted to get this from the ad hoc committee — I mean not to push them, but as soon as possible — because the sooner we get it, the sooner we vote on it. We've got the money to do the design,” Marsett said.

ASD spokeswoman Catherine Esary says the money would come from different funding sources, including district reserve funds, unsold authority from completed projects, and proposed bonds that will appear on the April ballot. There is also a possibility of some state or federal disaster reimbursement.

Editor's note: ASD originally used the term "approved but unallocated previous bonds" to describe a source of funding for the repairs to Gruening and Eagle River Elementary schools. They have since clarified that as an inaccurate description of the bond funding:
"Bonds from previous years were approved and projects were approved by voters for the District. Those projects are now complete, except for one, which is lacking only a final settlement. Because of the efficiency, there is money left over from those bonds which by the bond language, can be used for other District CIP projects. The correct term is unsold authority from completed projects, not unallocated."

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