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Kristin Murphy, KSL

5.7 magnitude earthquake, aftershocks caused estimated $1 million damage to Cyprus High School

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - Apr. 6, 2020 at 8:01 p.m.


11 photos

SALT LAKE CITY — The Magna area was the epicenter of the 5.7 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Salt Lake Valley the morning of March 18.

While West Lake STEM Junior High in West Valley City sustained the hardest hit of Granite School District’s schools — it is presently uninhabitable while officials determine whether it must be rebuilt or can be renovated — Cyprus High School in Magna also sustained significant damage, Granite School District officials confirmed Monday.

“We’ve got roughly a million dollars worth of damage,” said Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley.

The most significant damage to Cyprus High School was to an exterior wall near the school’s swimming pool and damage to the school library.

Plans include shoring up the exterior wall in the pool area and then rebuilding the wall “so the school can continue to be used for the next four years until the new school opens,” he said.

Damage to the library appears significant, but “we feel comfortable that with the current structure, we’re going to be able to make the necessary repairs, that will be accessible to students by this fall. Both areas should be accessible,” Horsley said.

Both schools were unoccupied when the earthquake occurred after state officials announced dismissal of all Utah public schools on March 13 as a means to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. The “soft closure” will last until May 1.

On Tuesday, the Granite School District Board of Education will consider spending some $90,000 for architectural services for damage assessment and reparations of the school.

Charlie Long, Cyprus High School journeyman custodian, shows a crack in the wall of the school's gym in Magna on Monday, April 6, 2020. The damage was caused by a recent 5.7 magnitude earthquake its aftershocks centered near the town. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, KSL)

Cyprus High School is scheduled for replacement in 2024. The new school will be built at approximately 8400 W. 4000 South and should be ready to occupy in August 2024, according to the school district’s construction schedule.

Portions of Cyprus High School, 8623 W. 3000 South, are more than 100 years old. The classroom buildings were redone in the mid-1980s and the school auditorium was rebuilt in the 1970s.

A “manual arts building” and one of the largest gymnasiums was built in the late 1920s, followed by a 600-seat auditorium and the addition of a balcony to seat an additional 250 people. In 1937, a two-story music building was built, joined to the main building and auditorium by a three-arched arcade and hallway, according to a published history of the school.

The 1950s and 1960s ushered in more construction and improvements, which included building a new gymnasium after the former gym was determined to be too small. The old gym was converted into three stories of classrooms.

According to the document, a new industrial arts building was in place by 1964, and the following year a connecting building between the administration and old gym buildings was completed.

Displaced windows cracks in the walls at Cyprus High School in Magna are pictured on Monday, April 6, 2020. The damage was caused by a recent 5.7 magnitude earthquake its aftershocks centered near the town. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, KSL)

“Literally, that building has probably been remodeled and updated more than any other in the Granite School District,” Horsley said.

The Utah Division of Risk Management, which insures state agencies, public colleges and universities, participating charter schools and school districts, is reviewing West Lake STEM Junior High and Cyprus High School and will determine the next steps.

One of the issues the board will need to decide is where to temporarily relocate West Lake students while the school is rebuilt or renovated. The school is located at 3450 W. 3400 South.

“Depending if it’s a renovation, restructuring of that facility or a rebuild, that building will not be able to be utilized for the next year to two years,” Horsley said.

Horsley said other Granite District schools experienced minor damage that the school district will address internally. “It’s mostly cosmetic. There’s very few instances where any of that is structural,” he said.

Some community members have asked whether the timetable for construction of the new Cyprus High School could be accelerated given the damage. Mitigation work to the site is ongoing and the construction project has not yet been put out to bid, Horsley said.

“We’re waiting for some infrastructure to be put in place. We can’t work on a construction site without access to water. That continues to be the main thing we’re working on right now,” he said.

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Marjorie Cortez

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