Seaside Heights Elementary School was among the dozens of schools and emergency services buildings across Oregon to receive funds for seismic rehabilitation grants from Business Oregon.

A total of $85 million was approved for 34 schools and six emergency service organizations, Business Oregon reported Friday.

The Seaside School District will receive $2.5 million for work at the Heights. Total cost for the elementary school and gymnasium portion of school construction will total between $14 million and $15 million, project manager Jim Henry said at an April 6 meeting of the district’s School Construction Citizen Oversight Committee.

Plans for Seaside Heights

Seaside Heights Elementary School construction plan.

The Heights project is part of the larger plan to move local schools out of the tsunami zone to the Southeast Hills, approved by voters with passage of a $99.7 million bond in 2016.

The expanded school will house current students as well as students from Gearhart.

Gearhart Elementary School will close in June 2020 and students relocated to the expanded Heights campus outside the tsunami inundation zone.

Henry said funds from the seismic grant will go to reinforcing the roof, exterior and interior wall connections, along with stiffer walls to provide additional shear capacity inside the school. Exterior concrete walls will be reinforced ito help stiffen the building overall.

Of the $85 million delivered, about $75 million will go to Oregon schools.

The maximum grant per school is $2.5 million, district superintendent Sheila Roley said.

In announcing the grant, Business Oregon reported that the Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program is a state of Oregon competitive grant program that provides funding for the seismic rehabilitation of critical public buildings, particularly public schools and emergency services facilities. It is one of the infrastructure programs Business Oregon administers to help develop livable and prosperous communities in addition to business development services and programs.

This is the fifth round of funding Business Oregon has awarded under the program, Business Oregon said.

“At some point, the state of Oregon set a goal of seismically retrofitting all of the older school buildings in the state,” Roley said.

This money is just for upgrades at the Heights school, she said, not for work at the middle and high school or other purposes.

Design development is complete, Henry said, including classroom types, gymnasium and covered play areas, technology improvements and building security. Construction teams are also creating a fire lane around the elementary school. “It’s going to be busy at the Heights.” 

The foundation work for the Heights gymnasium, newly separated out from the school building, begins when school ends in mid-June. Work will continued through the school year, from Tuesdays through Saturdays, to give construction crews one day a week to work when students are not in attendance. “It’s always hard to have construction while there’s school, but I think we have a pretty good scenario how to make it happen.”

The Heights school project is expected to be completed by summer 2020. “By August 1, hopefully we can put furniture in,” Roley said.

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