The Cleveland School Board decided Monday night to shut down the Cleveland High Dome after getting a dire analysis of its structural integrity.
The action was taken after Rex Pless of the Bennett and Pless engineering and consulting firm presented to the board his firm's preliminary structural analysis of the dome. The prognosis was grim, as Mr. Pless outlined the severe structural issue plaguing the dome.
Mr. Pless began his presentation by positing three questions, “Is this gym safe for children or anyone? Can the gym be repaired? Or does the gym need to be rebuilt?” He went into detail, explaining that at least 50 percent of roof timbers are over-stressed. He said this, coupled with significant cracks in the wall, warrant immediate action.
Mr. Pless suggested that the dome could still be used as long as the facility was shut down if winds of 30 mph or more occurred, if two or more inches of snow fall, and if the existing cracks continue to move or expand any further. He said the dome’s failure was due to a poor initial design and that it actually failed during construction, resulting in the addition of steel rods and posts.
Mr. Pless added that additional crack-monitors should be put in place in order to monitor the weekly and monthly movement of the cracks in the dome’s veneer. Board member Dr. Murl Dirksen asked what the course of action would be after the crack monitors are put in place.
Mr. Pless said there is a lack of reinforcement and waterproofing and these components were left out in the initial design and construction.
Superintendent Dr. Martin Ringstaff stated that after meeting with and touring the facility with the Cleveland City Council and Supervisor of Maintenance and Transportation Hal Taylor that a contingency plan for classes and after school athletic activities has been devised. Dr. Ringstaff emphasized that he did not want to wait for a 30 mph gust to find out what would happen as the safety of the students is paramount.
Dr. Ringstaff added that all Cleveland High basketball practices and home games would be moved to Cleveland Middle School until further notice and that the City Council was fully behind the school board in whatever action that may need to be taken. The board quickly voted to shut down the gym until at least after the full analysis can be completed.
The board also voted to approve the official calendar for the 2014/15 school year and changes to policy that included alterations to the grading system, graduation requirements, and the reinstitution of the adult education program.
The board also took the time to recognize the Teen Learning Center employees of the month, SRO Mike Ricker, and English teacher and 34-year veteran of Cleveland City Schools Valerie Dennis. The board also recognized and presented certificates of appreciation to Officer Mathew Brinkman, bus driver Brian Grisham, and bus monitor Ledford for heroics that saved several special needs students and the bus itself from a fire.
Giving dome report
- Photo2 by Tony Eubank