GREENSBORO — The Guilford County Board of Education passed a resolution Monday declaring a health-and-safety emergency at Brooks Global Studies.
The resolution authorizes major floor repairs at the school and allows the superintendent to take “any and all actions necessary to preserve and safeguard the health and safety of the people, their property and the interests of the school system.”
Guilford County Schools administrators had called a special meeting to seek the emergency resolution. The cost of repairs has not been determined.
Brooks Global is an extended-year magnet school, but because of the extensive repairs, students won’t head back to school on Aug. 8 as planned. Instead, they’ll start Aug. 26, the same day schools on the traditional academic calendar begin.
If the short-term repairs aren’t finished by Aug. 26, fourth- and fifth-graders will begin the school year at nearby Kiser Middle, and third-grade classrooms will shift to other parts of the school, the school district said.
Students in kindergarten through second grade will not be affected by construction.
“This is not an ideal situation, but the district must prioritize the safety of our students and staff while this work is taking place,” Superintendent Sharon Contreras said in a news release. “We are hopeful that we will not have to temporarily relocate Brooks’ students. However, we have a contingency plan in place if the need arises.”
In an earlier interview, Chief Operating Officer Scott McCully and Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry explained how the district discovered the issue.
After noticing some cracking in the floor tiles in one part of the building, the school turned in a work order, the two said. The district maintenance team decided to examine the floor from underneath the building.
They didn’t like what they saw of the floor joists — metal beams that support the floor above a crawl space. Actually, in this case, the leaders said, the open space between the floor and the foundation was too shallow to even allow the maintenance staff to get as good of a look as they wanted at all the joists. So they had an engineering firm bring a camera-carrying robot to explore beneath the school.
It turned out that the joists were corroding — basically, wearing out and no longer doing a good job of supporting the school.
They’d hoped just a few classrooms were affected, Henry said, but it turned out that eight of the nine classrooms in the third- through fifth-grade wing were compromised, though the rest of the school checked out fine underneath. The engineering firm advised them not to have anyone occupy that space until repairs can be made, she said.
Henry said they were looking at a short-term fix that’s likely going to take a lot of work: getting people under there to dig things out and put in blocks and then put jacks on top of the blocks to support the floor in that wing. They would expect that to cost about $300,000.
With regular inspections, that should hold them for the next year and a half or so, Henry said, and allow the school to use the wing.
A longer-term fix is a bigger question.
There are several permanent repair options the district could do, the leaders said, but they need time to investigate and weigh those.
Brooks Global is one of roughly 22 percent of district schools that consultants have said are in unsatisfactory condition, and the consultants recommended it be replaced with a new school building. The study, funded jointly by Guilford County Schools and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, found that the district needed nearly $1.5 billion in repairs and renovations.