PULASKI NEWS RELEASE
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (November 21, 2008) – Promising to dedicate the necessary manpower to complete repairs two months after work begins, Baldwin & Shell General Contractors of Little Rock has provided the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) with preliminary estimates for the time it will take to ensure the structural safety of Crystal Hill Elementary Magnet School in North Little Rock (Crystal Hill), and Clinton Elementary Magnet School in Sherwood (Clinton). The estimate to repair Crystal Hill is six to eight weeks, with Clinton repairs scheduled for four to six weeks, once work begins. The start dates are subject to final architectural and engineering specifications and preparation work at the buildings. The final cost estimates are subject to receipt by Baldwin & Shell of documents from WER Architects and Crafton Tull Sparks Engineers, both local firms.
“We are encouraged by the preliminary estimates provided to us from Baldwin & Shell,” said James Sharpe, superintendent of PCSSD. “As soon as the contractor, architects and engineers sign off on the qualifications for truss repairs and final cost estimates are received, we will instruct them to move forward making sure and certifying that both school buildings are safe. Only at that time will students and faculty be moved back to their respective schools.”
The Baldwin & Shell plan for repairing the trusses damaged by fire retardant chemicals at the time the schools were constructed, include strengthening individual trusses, installing reinforcing plywood plates where the truss members intersect, and providing bracing from one truss to another. There are 312 trusses needing repair at Crystal Hill, out of a total of 642. At Clinton, the number of trusses to be repaired is 146 out of 680.
Crystal Hill and Clinton buildings are currently closed and unoccupied as students and faculty of both schools have been moved to temporary locations pending the outcome of the construction repairs. Of the 712 students enrolled at Crystal Hill, those in kindergarten through 5th grade are currently located at Maumelle Middle School; pre-kindergarten students are located at Oak Grove Elementary School, and special needs students are located at Chenal Elementary School. All 755 Clinton students, pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, are located at First Assembly Church of God in North Little Rock. Relocated Crystal Hill classes began Monday, November 17, while classes for Clinton were resumed in their temporary location on Wednesday, November 19.
The need for the school building repairs was the result of a periodic screening of the roof support structure, including trusses treated with two different fire-retardant chemicals at the time the schools were constructed. The September report was issued by WJE Associates of Bingham Farms, Michigan, and reviewed locally by Crafton Tull Sparks. Immediately upon receipt of the report and local engineers’ analysis, Sharpe moved to suspend classes at Crystal Hill and begin a full review and assessment of the building’s trusses. Once this process was underway, the District turned its attention to Clinton, where the WJE report stated that similar structural damage had occurred.
The primary factors guiding the District in closing Crystal Hill first, then Clinton, were the differences in the two schools’ construction and the number of trusses affected: Crystal Hill was built in 1992, while Clinton was built in 1994; the fire retardant chemical used at Clinton was Pyro-Guard, which is thought to be less acidic, and less sensitive to heat and moisture than the Dricon chemical used at Crystal Hill, causing Crystal Hill to have more trusses affected than at Clinton (slightly less than half the trusses at Crystal Hill, as opposed to 21% of the trusses at Clinton); and the design loads at Clinton have a higher safety factor than do the structural loads at Crystal Hill. Crystal Hill was closed on Monday, November 10; Clinton on Monday, November 17.
The six-weeks and eight-weeks timeframe for repairs do not include final inspection and certification of the structures. Once repairs are completed, the structures will be certified by local engineers and by WJE Associates. Students will continue to report to the temporarily assigned schools until further notice.
Additional information, as it becomes known, will be posted on the District website at pcssd.org.