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Temporary move from quake-damaged West Lake STEM Junior High to cost millions

By Marjorie Cortez, KSL | Posted - May. 20, 2020 at 7:42 a.m.


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WEST VALLEY CITY — Temporarily relocating students and faculty from earthquake-damaged West Lake STEM Junior High will cost millions, but insurance will cover most of the costs.

After a 5.7-magnitude earthquake on March 18 significantly damaged the West Valley school, Granite School District officials decided to relocate students, faculty and staff to Westbrook Elementary School in Taylorsville. The schools are about 5 miles apart.

The school district will bus nearly 900 students to the elementary school, which will require the purchase of 15 school buses, hiring drivers, and fuel and maintenance costs, estimated to be about $1.7 million.

While many Utah school districts report difficulty filling bus driver jobs, Granite District spokesman Ben Horsley said 15 retired bus drivers have indicated they are willing to work on part-time contracts.

Meanwhile, work is underway at Westbrook Elementary to place a large modular structure at the school for classroom space, and another as a dining hall.

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The modular buildings, one of which will be large enough to accommodate 12 classrooms, restrooms and hallways, will cost around $1.4 million.

Typically multipurpose rooms in elementary schools are used as dining space and gymnasiums. Since a junior high has gym classes throughout the day, it needs full-time use of that space. Showering and dressing facilities will also have to be established.

Horsley said work is ongoing to determine if West Lake Junior High, located at 3450 W. 3400 South, can be salvaged through renovations or if the seismic damage is so severe that it must be rebuilt.

Westbrook Elementary School, 3451 W. 6200 South, was scheduled to close at the end of this school year after a vote of school board members in late 2019.

Students across the state have not attended school in person since March 13 when in-classroom learning was suspended to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

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