School needs earthquake proofing

One of the buildings at Oak Harbor Elementary School will undergo a project to make it more resistant to earthquakes.

The project, which is estimated to cost the school district from $250,000 to $300,000, includes upgrading the connections between the roof and walls and improving the bracing for the external walls on the south building, which was constructed in 1948 and remodeled in 1983.

“It will make for a safer building in the event that we have a major earthquake,” said Gary Goltz, Oak Harbor School District construction manager.

Construction crews first discovered that the building needed upgrades last summer. That was when it went through a $325,000 project that replaced the roof and improved drains.

Even though the building is solid, the seismic upgrades are needed, Goltz said.

“We want to make it a safer environment for the kids,” Goltz said.

The school district is starting to accept bids for the project on April 21. Once a contractor is chosen and asbestos abatement is performed on the structure, crews will begin work on the project that is expected to take most of the summer to complete, Goltz said.

The money for the project is funded through the school district’s capital facilities fund. Because of the importance of the upgrades, other capital projects, such as sprinklers at the former site of North Whidbey Middle School, are going to be delayed, Goltz said.

He added the building is the last elementary school building that needs the upgrades. Such work was accomplished when those schools were recently remodeled. The middle schools also meet current seismic codes.

Oak Harbor High School, however, also needs work to bring it up to current seismic codes.

Goltz said the school district needs to pass a bond to pay for a high school renovation before such work could begin.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at

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