At the June 11, 2018 Board of Education meeting, the Board approved a motion declaring the Central Haywood High School gymnasium fundamentally unsound and unsafe for future use as determined in an engineering report delivered to the school system earlier on June 11th.

The Board directed Interim Superintendent, Bill Nolte to notify the community about the architectural and engineering findings and related actions taken by the Board.  The Board approved additional motions to authorize Maintenance Director, Joe Buchanan to start the process to obtain bids for demolition of the gymnasium and conduct a feasibility analysis to determine a location for Physical Education and other instructional activities previously conducted in the facility.

School system records indicate the gymnasium was constructed in 1953.  The gymnasium was significantly impacted by hurricanes Francis and Ivan in September of 2004.  Since 2004, the facility has continued to deteriorate.  The most recent analysis of the facility by Dunn Structural Engineering, PLLC, include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Large cracks on both side walls of the gym were observed approximately 12 to 15 feet from the front wall.
  • The cracks widen to approximately 3 inches at the roof.
  • A repair attempt was conducted in the 1980s which included filling the open cracks with mortar and installing multiple steel straps across the cracks. Some of the mortar has since cracked, indicating continued movement. It is not known when this movement occurred.
  • The existing walls are approximately 31 feet tall and consist of 8 inch concrete masonry unit (CMU) and brick veneer.  The front wall was measured with a laser to be leaning outward approximately 3 inches.
  • Many of the brick pilasters are cracked their full height and bowing outward.  The open-web steel joists nearest the front corners of the gym are twisted and appear to be partially separated from the roof structure.
  • Because of the soft and wet soil present at the front wall, there is a likely chance for additional settlement to occur.
  • Although not observed or tested on the day of the site visit but considering the proximity to the Pigeon River, the soils at the other three walls would be found to be similar to the front wall.
  • The integrity of the CMU walls and their ability to resist lateral loads has been reduced. Their relative slenderness (8 inches for a 31 foot tall wall) and assumed lack of reinforcing do not meet the current building code or design standards.

The concluding paragraph in the Dunn Structural Engineering report states, “I believe there are too many deficiencies and too much damage to feasibly repair or reinforce the building.  Each of the structural systems (roof framing, roof diaphragm, walls, columns and foundations) are weakened or fundamentally unsound.  Further, the walls, which provide the lateral resistance to wind and seismic loads, do not meet the current building code or design standards.  The building is also located in the floodway, leaving the foundations and walls subject to further compromise and potential loss of stability.  It is my opinion that the building is beyond repair and should be raised.”

“This is a significant loss to Central Haywood High School, Haywood County Schools and the community,” said Bill Nolte, Interim Superintendent.  “We will proceed with the Board’s directives to analyze demolition costs and a location for instructional activities for Central Haywood High School.  I imagine we will need to make some short-term arrangements and consider long range solutions for this and other capital projects when we conduct Strategic Long Range Planning this fall.”

Contact:  Dr. Bill Nolte, Interim Superintendent