Photo Credit: Blake Aued
Five HVAC units on this modular building at Chase Street Elementary sit just 20 or so feet away from the nearest residence.
When Chase Street Elementary School’s second graders return from the holiday break in January, they’ll be entering their rooms from a different side. District officials plan to have the building—a modular unit with five classrooms housing 80 children and six teachers—picked up and rotated 180 degrees.
Officials are doing this to mitigate the effects of the building’s five HVAC units, which create noise so loud that nearby homeowners say it’s degrading their quality of life and their property values. One family threatened to sue the school district if a remedy wasn’t found.
After the neighbors complained, CCSD officials put the HVAC units on timers that turned them off at night and started them in the morning. The problem with doing so, said parents with children at Chase Street, is that the humidity that accumulated overnight caused carpeting to peel and books to sprout mold.
The school district then bought and installed individual dehumidifiers for the five rooms, which required school district employees to visit Chase Street twice daily to empty the dehumidifiers.
Those living near the temporary unit weren’t satisfied with the use of timers. According to a press release issued by CCSD communications specialist Mary Wickwire, district officials decided not only to rotate the building at a cost of $40,000, but also to add $10,000 worth of landscaping to further tamp down the noise. The money is drawn from the plant services fund, which has a current balance of $482,344, the press release says.
The temporary building will likely remain at Chase Street Elementary until at least 2023. If the school’s burgeoning enrollment continues, an addition could be built onto the brick-and-mortar building. Superintendent Demond Means has also proposed using sales-tax funds earmarked for renovating Clarke Middle School on a new elementary school off Tallassee Road instead to reduce overcrowding at Westside schools.