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If the School Board is Going to Consider Bringing Treasure Mountain Up to Code, It Should Look District Wide at Upgrades

In Tuesday’s School Board meeting, members discussed the facility needs of Treasure Mountain Junior High (TMJH). During the discussion board members tried to understand what needed fixed at the school. One of the big ticket items discussed was the TMJH school walls, where an estimated 15% of the schools aren’t up to current earthquake codes. Talk shifted to the roof, which also isn’t up to code. The reaction from some school board members was one of disbelief. The undertone was an outcry of “We have to bring this school up to code!”

That sounds good, so shouldn’t we bring this school up to code immediately? First some background… it seems TMJH was built to code in 1982-1983 and subsequent renovations were likely up to the code at the time. It’s much the same as every building, be it commercial or residential, around Park City. For instance, I was having my deck rebuilt this summer. It seems that between the time my deck was started being renovated and when it was finished, the code changed. The new code require that my deck have additional fasteners that further bolt it on to the side of my house. What does that mean to the people of Park City? Probably every deck in Park City that has been completed in the 50 years before mine was done on October 15th, 2015 technically isn’t up to code. In fact, I would wager that no structure around Park City currently meets the newest codes.

So, should we all invest our money in bringing our structures up to code? That’s for you to decide. Should the school board bring Treasure Mountain up to code? That’s the $8 million question.

It seems the school board may still be locked in the idea of justifying tearing down TMJH. Yet, the “code” argument highlights the problem with this line of thinking. Let’s say the board is adamant about TMJH walls needing to be brought up to “earthquake” code. Fine. How about Parley’s Park? Is that up to current seismic codes? How about McPolin? What about the High School? What about every school? Has the code regarding making buildings more resilient to earthquakes been updated since these buildings were constructed? If so, the board can’t just focus on TMJH because they want to tear it down. They should be methodically looking at all schools.

If the school board is really concerned with being up to code, they should do a survey of every school. They should find all the categories of issues where the buildings aren’t up to code. They should rank the categories in level of importance. Then they should fix that category of problem at all of our schools.

For instance, if seismic concerns are #1 on the list and both TMJH and Parleys had those issues, why wouldn’t you fix both of those first? Why would you move on to concern #2, #3, and #4 at TMJH when there are more important things at other schools?

Perhaps the School Board needs to get past trying to justify their past decisions and move on to making our schools better (wherever they are). Our community is willing to spend money on our schools. We just want it done in the right way.


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