Making the Haines School art room quieter may cost the school district up to $214,000.

The district last year moved art instruction from a specially built room that was part of the 2007 renovation project to a room off the high school open area – used for years as the school woodshop – that houses the high school’s heating and air handling units.

The change was part of a $50,000 office shuffle aimed at addressing discipline issues in the building.

But the price tag for the switch may be going up.

Borough facilities director Carlos Jiminez said $214,000 is the preliminary estimate for replacing the air handling units that are causing the noise.

Art teacher Linnus Danner describes the noise as a “loud, ambient sound that happens all the time.”

Danner said she raises her voice so students can hear her, but if students reply in a normal tone of voice, she has to ask them to repeat themselves in a louder tone.

Jiminez said he wants to assess the condition of the units before considering replacement. “Because they’re loud doesn’t mean they need to be replaced. If they still have a shelf life, then we would try to quiet them down without replacing them,” Jiminez said.

An option may be adding isolation pads, cushioning that would reduce vibration and noise, he said. “If there’s no quieting them down… obviously, you don’t want kids in a classroom where they can’t hear,” he said.

“One thing is to look at the whole picture and let the school board and assembly decide if it’s economically viable to replace those,” Jiminez said.

School superintendent Michael Byer said reducing noise in the classroom was not an emergency like a $75,000 project replacing the sprinkler system at Mosquito Lake School.

“It is something we want to address as much as possible,” Byer said, adding that it may be added to a capital projects list submitted annually to the state Department of Education.

Byer said it may make sense to replace the air-handling system, as parts for them are becoming more difficult to get and new ones would be more efficient.

“The thinking is that if we’re going to go ahead and (address the noise issue), let’s do it right instead of buying just a new fan and finding it doesn’t do the job,” Byer said.

Money for the project might potentially come from a school capital improvement project fund that holds about $400,000, or from a windfall recently received due to an overbilling by the local electric utility.

The district is currently seeking $1.6 million from the state Department of Education for upgrades to the Voc-Ed building. Improvements there include to the heating and air-handling units and plumbing, and new siding, windows and a handicapped-accessible rest room.