East High School will sport a 12-foot-wide, 20- to 30-foot-deep trench next week because the school's soil samples to predict ground stability in an earthquake have proved inconclusive.
Steve Harmon, Salt Lake School District director of buildings and grounds, told the Salt Lake Board of Education Tuesday night that the test borings "looked favorable but were not conclusive." Consultants Sergeant, Hawkins and Beckwith will dig a trench along the south side of the school for more conclusive tests.West High School, however, received a clean bill of health from its test samples, and preliminary reports from Highland High School indicate it will, too, said Harmon.
The district official reported that the consultants don't think there is a liquefaction problem at East but are unsure about the fault lines. The school itself may sit on a lake-shore shelf, with faults possibly running east and west of the school.
At West, "there is no evidence of any deep-seated movement" with minimal liquefaction potential and no fault problems, he said.
Highland's borings were finished Tuesday, but the preliminary report shows no liquefaction problems and the closest fault to the school, located at 1700 East and 2100 South, is at the old Irving Junior High School site, 2100 South and 1200 East.
Harmon said the full reports on the high schools will ready June 29. The soil samples on the five intermediate schools and Highland Park Elementary School, which was converted into an elementary from a junior high school, will be finished by July 10.
Meanwhile, the board appointed retired educator John Reed Call, former superintendent of the Granite School District, as facilitator of a staff committee that will analyze data, weigh options and make recommendations about the district's seismic study.
In December, the district's citizens seismic committee issued a report spelling out 13 recommendations to improve seismic safety in the schools, including retrofitting or replacing one or more of the city's three high schools. Cost projections, depending on the options, ranged from $30 million to $50 million.
Two weeks ago, after feeling public pressure, the school board backed away from appointing a second citizens committee to analyze the district's seismic options. Critics charged that it was the school board's responsibility to weigh and decide the options.
Tuesday night, upon the recommendation of Superintendent John W. Bennion, the board appointed a staff advisory committee consisting of Call, Nancy Hardy, Steve Harmon, Mary Jean Johnson and Dale Manning to sift through the data and help the board develop a plan.
Board members stressed that the committee is only advisory and that they want to be involved in the analysis. They said they will hold study sessions with the committee.
Final recommendations on seismic safety are expected to be made to the board in November.