By TED O’NEIL
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — Officials in Washington state have identified 561 school buildings that could be at risk from a seismic event such as an earthquake or tsunami.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources last year released its school safety report after a four-year investigation.
“We’re going after the highest risk buildings in the districts with the least ability to deal with them,” Tyler Muench from the Office of the Superintendent of State Instruction told the House Capital Budget Committee recently.
The committee is trying to determine how much money to allocate for 71 school buildings up and down the coast that are considered high priority.
Structural engineers and seismic experts looked at both the physical condition of the buildings and the quality of soil beneath them.
Investigators found that many schools in the state were built with unreinforced masonry before the 1940s and concrete buildings without seismic upgrades before the mid-1970s.
In total, 67 buildings serving 10,000 students were deemed to be located in tsunami inundation zones. Some 93% of the 561 at-risk schools were given one star — out of five — for structural integrity. Another 4% were given two stars and 3% were given three stars.