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BOE Seeks Proposals to Remedy Acoustic Issues at Walsh Intermediate School

The Branford Public School District has sent out a request for proposal looking for solutions to the sound problems at the middle school, which has virtually no walls.

The Branford Board of Education is seeking outside ideas in its effort to find the most effective way to solve the ongoing sound concerns at Francis Walsh Intermediate School.

The district sent out a request for proposal last week looking for solutions to the acoustic problems in the building, according to a New Haven Register report.

The middle school, which was built in the 1970s, has virtually no walls.

From 'Plan A' to 'Plan B'

Last fall, group of parents petitioned the Board of Education to sound proof as many as 10 classrooms in fifth-grade wing of the school. That plan, however, which eventually grew to a propsal to renovate the entire wing, was put on hold in August by the school board.

Then late last month David Stein, a project manager with Silver/Petrucelli + Associates, recommended the school board consider other options to solving the building's acoustics problem, an approach referred to as "Plan B."

Student, Teacher Survey

In addition to exploring other options for sound attenuation, Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez has said current students and teachers will asked to take part in a survey that will allow them to share their experience at the school.

Graduated middle school students will also be asked to participate in the survey, Hernandez said.

Kate October 10, 2012 at 01:28 AM
As a former teacher, my question is: who had the brilliant idea to build a school with no walls? Were teachers consulted? Just curious.
megmcg October 10, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Oh goodness, this is ridiculous. You know what, in the real world there aren't walls at work. You work in a cube or an open room. It's the way the world works. Make some frames around some soundproofing foam, cover them in fabric and hang from the ceiling to absorb the noise. The great thing about this school is that it's modular, the rooms can be changed around.
Daniel Prusinowski October 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
The idea of open-plan class rooms is an old one. The thought was to foster collaborative teaching. This does not work when each class space is undertaking different projects or individual lectures. Adding sound absorption to a class space may only minimally solve the problems of speech transmission and reverberant noise. Absorption will in particular do very little or nothing if the adjacent class spaces are only feet apart, the direct sound levels will instead be the factor. The school really needs to consider hiring an acoustical consultant to advise them on proper designs of partitions and room layouts, or at least installing portable dividers that have some appreciable height to them. In addition, there may be problems of excessive noise from HVAC systems that needs to be examined. High background noise levels can influence teachers to speak in higher than normal speech levels, and can also interfere with speech comprehension.

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