Portage schools chief: Let's end West building noise

2013-02-13T19:03:00Z 2013-02-13T20:37:11Z Portage schools chief: Let's end West building noiseJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | When Portage High School West was constructed nearly four decades ago, open concept classrooms were the newest thing in construction.

But, said Portage Township Schools Superintendent E. Ric Frataccia, every year or so he gets inquiries from teachers at the building, asking something  be done to curtail the building's noise problem.

Walls separating most classrooms are only 5 1/2 feet tall. That causes the noise problem, which causes a study problem for some teachers and students.

Frataccia told the School Board Wednesday night at its discussion meeting he believes the issue needs to be revisited.

"I believe we need to restudy it as an academic venture to see what needs to be done," said Frataccia.

Chesterton architects Gerometta & Kinel performed a quick study last year recommending raising walls and installing doors in parts of the building. The estimated cost was $124,000, but Frataccia said he's not sure the study fully encompassed the problem.

"There are many challenges," he said, explaining the heating system is in the ceiling, so walls cannot go up to the ceiling because they would block ventilation.

School Board President Cheryl Oprisko said there is also an issue because classrooms are stacked three deep and the height of the walls can't be so tall as to block a view through all three classrooms. She said a previous study suggested carving out hallways to circumvent that concern.

Crisman Elementary School also was constructed with open concept classrooms, but has not had similar issues, said Frataccia.

Frataccia said the district has $800,000 left in a construction bond fund. That money could be used, but the district also likely would have to dip into its rainy day fund to complete the project, plus tackle efforts to make school buildings more secure, a project officials previously discussed undertaking.


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