Elmwood band room not designed for 75 musicians PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:19
Elmwood High School students fill the band room during practice. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
JERRY CITY - Elmwood Schools administrators have four projects they want to start this spring including one that would solve a health hazard to band students.
Superintendent Tony Borton presented the top four projects he'd like the district to commit to in the immediate future: A new band room, updating the infrastructure for technology, improving the energy efficiency of outside lights, and repairing parking lots.
These projects are, "in my eyes, I think we should be addressing at this time," Borton stated.
Students moved into the school 10 years ago this month, and already a new phone system and PA system have been installed, the district has had to recommission the HVAC system, has insulated the perimeter of the building with foam insulation, and has added new more-efficient lighting to all three gyms, the cafeteria and the shops.
The band room, Borton said, has a noise decibel level dangerously high for students and teachers.
The room was designed for 45 students; there are now 75 in band.
When the room was built with a metal ceiling and concrete walls and floors, there was nothing to absorb any sound, let alone a full band or choir rehearsal.
School board President Brian King said he was on the board when the building was completed, and they knew right away there was a problem with sound.
The board in December of 2005 approved hanging acoustic tiles to help solve the problem, but it didn't and now the tiles are dislodging.
"Nothing we can do will soften the decibel level," Borton said.
Gregg Abke, facilities and grounds supervisor, said he measured 114-116 decibels when the full band was playing, comparing that to rock concert. The normal speaking voice is 60 decibels, he said.
"It is an occupational hazard in that room," Abke stated.
"We do believe it can be a health and safety issue for our students," said King. "If it was just space, we wouldn't be doing this."
Justin Brinkman, instrumental music teacher, pointed out the hardest impact is on him, not the students.
The board is aware that if Brinkman files an OSHA report for hearing loss, they wouldn't be able to fight it.
Borton suggests building a new 4,200-square-foot band room at the end of the north wing, creating "a total musical solution" in that it frees up current space for storage and choirs, and cancels the noise "bleed" down the hallway.
The estimated cost of $900,000.
(A story about the other three projects appears on the Education page today.)

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