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After 2 years of earthquake repairs, Gruening Middle School set to reopen this fall

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 6:53 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gruening Middle School was considered one of the most damaged schools in the Anchorage School District following the Nov. 30 earthquake in 2018. Now, more than two and a half years later, the school is preparing to reopen its doors to students this fall.

“We have been at Chugiak (High School) and they have been really gracious about bringing us in, making us part of their community,” said Gruening Principal Bobby Jefts. “But we missed being at our home school site, our home campus, so we are excited to be back here.”

Initial earthquake damage to the school was pegged at $10.7 million. Additional upgrades put the final price tag at $39.3 million, including some that were not seismic related, but could be done more economically during earthquake repair and construction according to the district.

Anchorage voters approved a bond to fund the project and the district has applied for some of the money to be reimbursed by the federal government.

Upgrades include structural improvements and a new roof for the 36-year-old school. Workers have constructed a secure entryway for the school, and switched the area where buses pick up and drop off students to the rear of the building, which is considered safer.

Jefts said new white paint in the hallways and classrooms as well as LED lighting further brighten-up the school.

“I think it’s just going to be a more inviting space for kids,” he said.

Jefts said they are getting phone calls from families who are eager to be back, and staff who are looking forward to welcoming them.

“All the teachers and staff, they’re really excited to be back here,” he said. “We are just looking forward to the start of the school year in our brand-new building.”

Jefts said he expects nearly 600 seventh and eighth graders will report to Gruening for the first day of school on August 17.

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