Local educators heard a report at Monday's Anchorage School Board meeting regarding a long-term solution for two schools closed after the 7.1 earthquake that rattled the region on Nov. 30.

Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle schools were both shut down due to extensive damage, with the Anchorage School District planning to keep them closed through at least the next school year.

The district hired an architecture firm to look at the process of reopening the schools, asking three questions about them:

• What would it cost to fix it?
• What would it cost to improve the seismic resilience of the buildings?
• What would it cost to replace the buildings?

At a special school board session Monday, an ASD ad hoc committee recommended repairing the buildings, replacing their roofs and retrofitting seismic improvements.

"There was a consensus on the ad hoc committee if we were to move forward on any type of repair to the buildings, that they would also be improved seismically so we wouldn't find ourselves back in the situation when we get the next earthquake," said Tom Roth, ASD's chief operating officer.

Those fixes come at a cost, Roth said Monday. The rough estimate for Eagle River is $12.1 million and the rough estimate for Gruening is $24.2 million.

School officials are optimistic about seeing some help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The next step is to conduct a competitive bidding process for designs, which could take a few months.

"We estimate about 10 percent of the total project cost for design," Roth said. "So, we’re looking probably around $4 million."

The board has three options to fund that. The board could use fund balance money that is available now, unused bond authority from previous bonds or a bond project on this year's municipal ballot going before voters next month, which Roth said has a $4 million amount specific to earthquake repairs in Chugiak and Eagle River areas.

Getting a design in hand will let ASD open bids for a construction contract.

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