December 18, 2014

Study finds Parshall High School building flaws

By Jerry W. Kram

The Parshall High School building has seen better days.

That was the gist of a facility design study presented to the Parshall School Board at its most recent board meeting. Don Davison of JLG Architects of Minot summarized the report for the board and said while the school building is sound and safe for now, the school district should plan on replacing it sometime in the next 15 to 20 years.

"The building is structurally sound," Davison said. "But is it something you should build onto or put in millions of dollars of improvements over the next few years? My answer would be no. It is not worth putting significant money into except for safety purposes."

School Superintendent John Weidner noted that this presentation was only for the board’s information. The board commissioned the report for its future planning, but this was the first time it has seen the report and no decisions on the future of either the elementary or high school have been considered.

Davision said the problem stems from mistakes that were made when the high school was first built. The school sits on a concrete slab supported by pilings. The soil under the school is softer that originally thought and the building is settling more that the original designers expected. The problem is compounded by the fact that the building’s load bearing outer walls are sitting on the foundation slab and not on pilings.

Davision said the areas high water table and clay soils means the foundation, especially under the gymnasium, has sunk about two inches. The subsidence is responsible for the cracks in the interior masonary walls and concrete floor of the school. Again, Davison emphasized that cracks in the walls are not dangerous and the cracks in the floor can be smoothed out to keep people from tripping over them. However, sometime in the next two decades, the district will have to look at a new building.

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