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Lum School Shaker Shocker

Map of soil sample sites at Lum School.

Map of soil sample sites at Lum School.

Late yesterday, the Alameda Unified School District announced that Lum Elementary school is probably not safe in an earthquake and will probably close after the current school year concludes.

A structural engineer conducting tests in advance of the construction of a new classroom building on the campus uncovered the risk. The soil on which the school was built, in 1961, has been found to be susceptible to liquefaction in the event of an earthquake.

After the initial tests, the school district ordered five more soil samples to be taken around the campus. All five samples told the same tale, and the engineers have recommended that “the district develop a plan to provide suitable alternate facilities for the students as soon as feasible.”

Peer review of the findings have confirmed that the Lum soil could be subject to liquefaction.

An information page set up by the school district explains that the building foundation for Lum makes it especially susceptible to building collapse in the event of a large earthquake; the structural engineer determined that the building could sink by as much as 5 inches in a 100-year quake.

“I know this is terrible news to hear,” Superintendent Sean McPhetridge said “Our schools are our communities, and Lum Elementary School is a fabulous community. But as staff we will be recommending closing the site in 2017-18 due to our concern for the safety of students and staff.”

The school district is exploring options for re-locating Lum students for the new school year beginning in August.

The district’s information page says that the Wood campus, right next door to Lum, is still being evaluated. Similarly, the district has not yet determined if Lum school can be seismically upgraded to eliminate the risk.

A special Board of Education meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, April 28, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the matter.

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