A stunning condo collapse in
A newly released report concludes that the failures that led a roof to cave in at
Nevertheless, administrators plan to reopen those schools after making repairs while proposing that the main building at Rickards be replaced. The district also plans to keep open about three dozen other schools where the state has determined that one or more buildings should be replaced.
In light of
“We’re going to be coming up with a plan that once schools hit a certain age, we will look at those schools,” district construction manager
The district plans to “bring recommendations of structural reviews, investigations and inspections to the School Board” by August, according to a statement from the office of Chief Communications Officer
The statement also said each project’s architects and engineers are already required to review the conditions of facilities once they take on a school construction project
A 2016 architectural review did not reveal any structural concerns at Rickards, which was built in 1969, even though a school with the same design,
Renovations were actually 75% complete at Rickards, and a new roof had been installed when the breach happened during school hours on
An engineering review conducted in April blamed the Rickards’ collapse on the failures of bolts used to connect L-shaped brackets from the wall to the roof joists.
“Our work at Rickards has shown that some of the bolts failed in a brittle manner, which is unexpected and inconsistent with the type of material generally used for these bolts,” said the report from
Four other schools with the same prototype — Apollo,
“If a bolt fails for any reason, there is an increased likelihood that additional bolts may fail, potentially resulting in a roof collapse similar to the one observed at Rickards,” said the report, dated
The report doesn’t mention the 1979 roof collapse at Apollo, which followed a heavy rainstorm. An engineering review at the time blamed that failure on insufficient roof drainage and inadequate roof slope and support.
The district gave Apollo a new roof and installed new concrete columns and steel support girders for all five schools’ roofs, along with drainage equipment to take rainwater off the roofs, the
The engineering firm reviewing the recent Rickards collapse recommended putting shoring, or props, in place to support the joists at Apollo,
These repairs will happen well before the new school year begins, making the schools safe for students and teachers, said
“The four schools will all be shored up,” Moquin said. “In fact, we believe there’s a good chance the permanent repairs will be accomplished.”
“Given the history of this prototype, I don’t feel confident,” she said. “There’s never going to be a permanent fix until you replace the buildings.”
That’s the plan for Rickards. Moquin said district administrators will ask the
Until then, students probably will be temporarily placed at other schools, such as nearby
The school district also hopes to get permits needed to reopen two other buildings on the Rickards campus that were not affected by the roof collapse. That could happen before any work begins on the main building, but that’s not an option that science teacher
“I just feel it’s not safe for anyone to be anywhere on the campus while the building is being demolished,” she said.
Rickards parent Muriel Theophin-Atilussaid said none of the options seem good. She said she has concerns about her daughter possibly going to
“As slow as they work on construction, it is not going to be complete by winter break,” she said. “There’s going to be some kind of excuse. We’re going to have another community meeting where they say we ran into an issue with the permits, so let’s continue for the rest of the year with students on different campuses.”
School replacements, like the one proposed for Rickards, have been rare in
But only a few building replacements are in Broward’s school construction plan, even though at least three dozen schools have state-approved reports confirming their conditions are poor enough to warrant demolishing and replacing buildings. These include
The reports don’t say that the buildings are in imminent danger but that it would be more cost-effective to replace rather than repair them.
District officials say they don’t have the money to replace all inferior buildings. They even switched one planned replacement to a renovation without
The district told voters in 2014 that it planned to replace
“The lack of natural light makes for a miserable learning and working environment for the children and staff,’ architect
The district decided the project should be a renovation because “replacing the building would require a much greater resource of funding,” according to a
After being questioned about this action in public meetings by Lynch-Walsh and
“The District remains steadfast in its strategy of addressing upgrades, whether renovation or replacement, based on the unique needs of each school and the particular conditions of each building,” Koch’s office said. “Each building and project must be evaluated on an individual basis to determine replacement versus repair.”
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