School establishing "Quiet Zone" for better learning environment

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) – With the help of police, one Region 8high school is cracking down on loud music being played in front of the highschool. Newport school officials say a "quiet zone" may create a betterlearning environment for their students.

"We have had times where the window panes just literallyrattled from the bass of the music being played," Mary Bennett said.

Bennett has taught math for the past two years at NewportHigh School. Her classroom faces Wilkerson Drive, which runs though the middleof campus. She says cars pass by and play loud music, disrupting her classdaily.

"For instance, today, we're giving a test," Bennett said, "sowe've located it away from this side of the building for reasons like that."

Teachers along her wing have long complained about themusic, and the Newport Special School District has taken steps to put theproblem on mute.

"Our students deserve that time to focus on whatever theteacher's providing," said Dr. Larry Bennett, superintendent.

Last spring, the City of Newport placed two signs on eitherend of campus, establishing a "quiet zone."

"Teaching is supposed to be going on in the classrooms. Whenpeople come through that street, it's very loud," Dr. Bennett said. "So quietzones are just, like you said, be quiet."

The city passed an ordinance several years ago allowingpolice to ticket drivers for playing loud music around town. The "quiet zone"signs remind people to turn down the volume so that students can stay focused.

"We're just asking the public just be careful and be politewhen they come through our campus," Dr. Bennett said.

Over the years, the school district has focused on making thisstretch of street safer. Three raised crosswalks were installed to slow downdrivers, but Principal Becky Watkins says they've also helped cut backcomplaints about loud music.

"We still have vehicles that come through with their 'thumpthump, bump bump' music to the point that it literally vibrates the glass inthe windows on these wings, and the teachers have to stop teaching," Watkinssaid.

Dr. Bennett says Newport police have not written any ticketsnear the school for loud music, adding that he's received fewer complaints fromteachers since the signs were installed.

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