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Banks school officials mull new plan after construction levy fails

Safety issues particularly keen in junior high building
by: Chase Allgood Glass-block features in a classroom wall at Banks Junior High School is just one item district officials are worried about in terms of safety in case of a seismic emergency. Money from a failed bond levy would have fixed the issue.

A quick tour of Banks School District buildings leaves little doubt that officials will soon be forming a new plan for shoring up aging facilities.

Voters gave a third thumbs-down May 17 to a construction bond levy that would have fixed seismic and safety problems at the junior high and high school, among other projects.

This time the price tag was $10.5 million, a sum the electorate couldn't handle. But the levy's failure leaves school board members and Superintendent Jim Foster with a continuing conundrum: how to make buildings safe for students and staff as they continue to age.

Banks Junior High, which enrolls 208 students this year, scored a minus-1 on a scale of 1 to 10 for performance in a moderate earthquake, according to a 2007 engineering report produced for the district.

Particularly problematic are classrooms that feature glass-block construction. The school board plans to explore possible solutions at its June 13 meeting.