Hardest hit Mat-Su Schools share architectural similarities

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Overall, the Mat-Su Borough School District fared well during and after last week's magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Out of 47 schools, 34 are currently operating under normal parameters. The rest of those buildings should reopen within the next week with the exception of Houston Middle School.

A second-floor wall at Houston Middle School shows separation after a 7.0 earthquake hit Southcentral Alaska last Friday. (KTUU)

Students from Houston Middle will relocate to Houston High for the remainder of the school year due to the severity of the damage to the middle school building.

There could be a significant correlation between the damage at Houston Middle School and two other schools in the Mat-Su Valley that suffered similar damage — Colony Middle and Colony High School.

According to Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Dr. Monica Goyette, all three buildings were constructed in the mid 1980s using a process she referred to as "stacked block" construction — a method of construction common among the schools with more severe damage, and believed to be less resilient to seismic shifting.

While Houston Middle remains closed, Colony Middle School and Colony High School will reopen sometime next week along with the rest of the Mat-Su schools. Part of Colony High School will remain closed to students while repairs are underway.