Shifting soils convince Meeker board to build foundation under new elementary school

MEEKER — Soils in this area can be, well, a bit unsettling. With that in mind, the Meeker School Board has decided on a foundation for the new elementary school.
mknewelementaryschoolimage“The good news is that we’ll have an excellent foundation system for the school, which falls well within original budget projections,” said Mary Strang, school board president. “Arriving at the right solution has taken some time as the soils in this valley are universally a challenge, and those present at the school site are no different. The soils are not unique to this site … the alternative site would have possibly been worse. However, after weeks of soils analysis and research, the district’s engineers have come up with a reliable foundation design.”
School officials consulted with engineers from Terracon Inc. of Colorado Springs, which did the core drilling and analysis, and H-P Geotech of Glenwood Springs, which did a third-party review.
“(The engineers) concur that a deep over-excavation foundation concept is the best way to deal with the combination of compressible soils (sandy and wet clay) and expansive shale,” Strang said. “The whole design of the foundation is very intricate. The good thing was to have a third-party review. We felt we needed to do that, to exercise due diligence, and to two firms concur on the system to be used.”
Excavation work has begun at the school site.
“Consequently, the preparation of the site for the foundation requires more than meets the eye,” Strang said of the engineers’ recommendation. “It includes over excavating, replacing and compacting the acceptable soils, surcharging the west side of the building footprint, temporarily, with 12 feet of additional soil to compress a vein of wet clay, and them removing the additional 12 feet of soil once there’s been adequate compaction.”
Strang said the school board did extensive due diligence on the foundation issue, in response to community concerns about the construction project.
“We’ve understood there’s been some speculation in the community that there’s pending trouble with the foundation,” Strang said. “We’d like to put these fears to rest and give the community an update and some good news.”
In other business at the board’s May 5 meeting, all three building principals — George Henderson at the high school, Jim Hanks at the middle school and Jason Hightower at the elementary school — were awarded contracts for the 2009-2010 school year, as was Susan Goettel, administrative/executive assistant.
• Board members heard a presentation about a computer program the district will use for tracking and assessing student progress.
“It builds profiles for each student, showing their accumulative progress and processes the results of any new data,” Strang said. “With such a tool, our administrators and staff can utilize student data, rather than having to use a lot of time compiling it. I know all of the administrators are excited about the potential.”
• Board members discussed revisions to the district’s community use of school facilities policy.
“The goal is to have a fair and flexible way to facilitate the use of school facilities,” Strang said. “They belong to the taxpayer and should be used, providing such use doesn’t interfere with school programs.”
The board will approve the policy at its next meeting, Strang said.