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OPEN-CLASSROOM SCHOOL IN W.V. IS FILLING UP WITH LOTS OF WALLS

"Some-thing there is that doesn't love a wall," wrote Robert Frost.

So, it's with some irony that Robert Frost Elementary, 3444 W. 4400 South, is the first of six open- classroom schools in the Granite District to be filled up with walls."It's been a big project, but it appears it will be done on schedule," Granite spokesman Kent Gardner said Wednesday. By "on schedule" he means in time for a Sept. 20 opening, which means an extended summer vacation for the 473 students enrolled at Frost.

The Frost students also got a head start on their vacation last spring, clearing out of the school on May 17 to make way for the construction crews. The trade-off has been an extra half hour of school each day during the 1994-95 school year continuing through 1995-96.

For most of Frost's students, 30 minutes a day is probably a small price to pay for all those extra weeks of freedom. Most of the other children in the state's largest district will trundle off to school Aug. 28.

"I'm sure they love it," said Jackie Williamson, mother of four Frost students. She said they are also excited about the changes at their school.

Having taught in an open classroom school in Idaho, Williamson said she, too, is looking forward to the conversion of Frost. While some students and teachers seem to thrive in the open setting, many don't, she said.

"I've taught in both, and I like the traditional style better," she said. "In the open classroom, teachers are limited in what they can do - they have to be more quiet - because they are sharing the space."

Popular in the '70s, the open or semi-open school design - where two or more teachers work together with multiple classes in large, open settings - is being systematically phased out in Utah.

All of the open schools in the Granite and Jordan districts are slated for conversion to the traditional floor plan. Each of the conversions will cost between $750,000 and $1.5 million and disrupt school schedules.

At Frost, for example, construction work may continue even after school starts Sept. 20. "We may have to fudge a bit and finish it up while school's in session, but we don't think that will pose any serious problems," Gardner said.

However, Gardner said Frost has provided the district with some experience that will prove valuable in the planning for future conversions, continuing next year with Farnsworth Elementary, 3751 S. 4225 West. The other open elementary schools scheduled for remodeling in future years are Moss, Monroe, Roosevelt, Jackling and Rolling Meadows.

Williamson said after visiting the work in progress at Frost, she concluded, "It's going to be a beautiful school." And even though there could be frost on the ground before her children are back in school, she says, "If you want something better, you have to make some sacrifices."

Of course, her four children don't mind. "We're going to Disneyland," Williamson said.