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S.L. DISTRICT MAY SINK MORE FUNDS INTO WEST HIGH’S SEISMIC RETROFIT

SHARE S.L. DISTRICT MAY SINK MORE FUNDS INTO WEST HIGH’S SEISMIC RETROFIT

The Salt Lake City School District will apparently pump another $1.7 million into the seismic retrofit project at West High School.

The additional $1.7 million will cover new lights, ceilings and fees charged by architects, engineers and the general contractor. It also will cover relocating the school's child development center and possibly establishing a food court.The school board has agreed to the expenditure in concept but has not approved bids or contracts for the work.

The final phase of the seismic retrofit at West High School is $4 million over budget, pushing the total of the combined projects to more than $19.7 million.

School board members have grumbled aloud whether the money would have been better spent starting anew.

Upon its completion, West High School will have a new field house, technology building and a retrofitted classroom wing, cafeteria and commons area. With the lighting, food service and child development improvements, the cost of the project could exceed $21.4 million.

By comparison, new high schools in the Jordan School District - Jordan and Copperview - cost about $33 million each.

Board member Karen Derrick, who represents the West High School district, remarked the new East High School is a "noble building" and the upgrade of Highland High School has breathed new life into that school.

"What I don't want to see happen is that we just have an old building (at West) when we're through," Derrick said.

Derrick and West High School building Chairwoman Chris Decker urged the school board to approve the $1.7 million package.

Decker said teachers had identified additional electrical outlets and improved lighting as top priorities.

Teachers have taped extension cords to the floors of their classrooms or employed power strips to provide a power source for computers or audiovisual equipment.

Decker questioned why project managers and architects included computer and communications hardware and fiber-optic cable in the original project yet omitted lighting and electrical wiring.

"Here we're providing fiber-optic cable and leaving the same number of electrical outlets?" Decker asked.

Earlier, Salt Lake School District building and grounds Director Steve Harman said the school would look fresh and new upon completion of the retrofit project.

Budget problems discovered this summer were due to inflation, previously undiscovered structural problems and a decision to paint and install floor coverings in the classroom building.

Initially, the district planned to redo only the flooring that was damaged during the seismic retrofit, Harman said.

Business Manager Gary Harmer said he was caught by surprise by the latest request. Last summer, Harmer said seismic retrofit projects at other schools may be postponed to pay for the high school projects.

Now he believes tax revenues may have improved to the point that the district can move on to other projects, most of which are elementary schools.

In 1993, Salt Lake residents authorized the district to issue up to $70 million in general obligation bonds to speed up retrofit efforts.