Oldest school in Grants Pass gets seismic upgrades

Construction workers upgrade Highland Elementary School in northwest Grants Pass. (John Stoeckl/News 10)

Highland Elementary School in northwestern Grants Pass is getting significant upgrades to the facility in preparation for future earthquakes.

“Highland’s our oldest school.” Sherry Ely said, who works for the Grants Pass School District. The building was built in 1956, and the school district knew it was prime for a seismic evaluation.

The Grants Pass School District has a seismic assessment done and Highland came out on top in most need for structural improvements in the event of an earthquake. They then applied for a seismic grant through the state and was awarded $1.5 million dollars for the upgrade.

“We knew just from that perspective that when it was originally constructed,” Ely said. “Seismic standards were not building code back then.”

The school is getting “Pin Piles,” which are steel rods that run into the ground and tie the walls and roof together. It’s also getting new windows and other structural elements to make the facility safer.

These renovations are coming at just the right time. Further seismic assessment of the soils in the northwestern part of Grants Pass has shown some instability with the soils and granite. Had an earthquake happened, one side of the school ran the risk of collapsing toward the playground.

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