The new school year starts for students in the Anchorage School District in a little over two weeks.

However, this does not include Gruening Middle School and Eagle River Elementary School, both of which remain closed because of damage from the Nov. 30 earthquake.

Administrators say the quake caused over $10 million in damages at the middle school and over $4.7 million in damages at the elementary school. But the total cost of repairs are much higher because of damage control improvements.

Thirteen other schools also need repairs. ASD is assuring parents those campuses and the rest of the district are safe for students and teachers.

"They will perform to the same standard that they did and if I didn't believe that, we wouldn't have kids or staff going into those buildings," said ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth.

The school board passed a resolution in March to rebuild both the middle and elementary schools.

According to ASD's post-earthquake estimates, it will cost a little more than $23 million to repair and improve Gruening Middle School, while Eagle River Elementary School fixes will cost just over $12 million.

Both schools would be the first in the district to be reinforced to better withstand a similar quake in the future. In total, ASD is expected to spend over $100 million to strengthen the district's damaged buildings.

"By doing it in a phased manner, with priorities as to where they would basically put these efforts, that's probably the better approach," said ASD Consultant George Vakalis. "In fact, they may even decide at a later date that in some of these areas, the schools, especially the newer schools, they may not have to bring them up to that level."

The district still has to get the approval of the school board and the Anchorage Assembly. Administrators hope to get the measure on next April's ballot.

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