SEASIDE — Gearhart Elementary School, Broadway Middle School and Seaside High School were built with an expected lifespan of 45 to 50 years. Each school has been used well beyond that span.
A new school campus is not expected to open until fall 2020. Until then, schools deemed old and at risk in a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami continue to house students.
A fact sheet by proponents of the successful $99.7 million bond measure for the new campus last year described the three schools as in a state of deterioration, including crumbling concrete that is decreasing structural integrity, rusted pipes, leaky roofs, old electrical wiring, and failing heating systems. “It would cost well over $30 million to fully correct the roofing, plumbing, heating, and electrical issues,” Save Our Schools wrote at the time. “The deteriorating structural walls and seismic issues cannot be corrected.”
Maintenance crews spent the summer polishing floors, painting and doing exterior work to keep pests at bay.
“We did not focus on any major repairs in any of the buildings, or any improvements or anything like that,” Chuck Loesch, the school district’s head of maintenance, said. “With an up- and- coming new school, we are just maintaining what we have.”
The budgeted cost of building maintenance stands at about $306,000 for repair of school buildings, according to the district’s budget, a figure less than half the $800,000 the year before.
“We are looking at any maintenance we need to do,” Superintendent Sheila Roley said. “Do we need this for student safety? Is this something that is imminent or urgent? Do we need to address it, or is it something we can maybe work out? Because we know there will be a new facility.”
Meanwhile, existing schools continue to house students.
During the summer break, maintenance crews polished all school floors and painted at Gearhart, Seaside Heights and Broadway schools.
Loesch said the district’s maintenance team also performed integrated pest management this year on all school buildings.
“By trimming the trees up and back and from all the buildings and all the shrubbery so it does not collect leaves and trash and rodents so it doesn’t create problems,” he said.
Leaks in the high school computer rooms “are in the works to be patched,” he added, but pipe repairs at Gearhart are unlikely to get attention before students are moved to the new campus.
At the start of the school year, Seaside High School Principal Jeff Roberts said staff focuses on safety “by being proactive and making necessary repairs after routine checks.”
“We continue to feel blessed that this community supported the initiative to build new schools that will support student learning and keep kids safe,” Roberts said. “Upon passing of the bond we have been diligent in our spending to ensure that our building is functional and safe for students and will be very thoughtful in any significant investments we make in capital improvements.”
Meanwhile, the district cleared a hurdle for construction of the new school by winning approval for zoning changes to bring the campus within the city’s urban growth boundary.
Work is not expected to begin until next spring and the first classes are expected in 2020.
For now, the existing buildings will not be likely to see much in the way of upgrades or construction.
“We probably would defer unless it was really critical doing it,” Roley said. “There are always things. It’s a continual process.”