Portable classrooms prove to be just that

July 27, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Washington County Public Schools will spend about $1 million to move portable classrooms this summer.

About 18 portable classrooms will be moved to different schools, and one portable classroom will be demolished, leaving about 80 such classrooms at local public schools, said Rob Rollins, director of facilities planning and development.

About $1.5 million was budgeted for moving the portables, but it will cost only about $1 million, Rollins said.

Many of the portables being moved to other schools are coming from schools being demolished this summer and replaced with new schools. Eleven portables are being taken from the old Pangborn Elementary School, which is entering its second week of demolition work.

Of those portables, 10 are being moved and one is being demolished.

"It's old and worn out and ready to go," Rollins said. "It's beyond its service life."

He said that portable classrooms typically last about 20 years.


Four portable classrooms also were at the old Maugansville Elementary School, which, along with Pangborn, will have a new school building in August.

No new portable classrooms were purchased this year, Rollins said.

Elementary schools

Four portable classrooms are being moved at Fountain Rock Elementary School. Three are being taken from the grounds, and one is staying at the school, but being moved, Rollins said.

"It must be moved to the other side of the school to make room for the cafeteria addition," he said. "We can't do that for free."

Winter Street and Potomac Heights elementary schools each are receiving one portable classroom. When those changes are made, Winter Street will have four and Potomac Heights will have two, according to documents.

Two portable classrooms are being moved to Boonsboro Elementary School, bringing that school's total to four.

The elementary school with the most portable classrooms was Pangborn for the 2007-08 school year, but it now is Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, which has seven, according to documents. Rollins said that officials decided to keep seven portables at the school even though only pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will be enrolled there beginning this school year.

Classes such as music and art will be held in the portable classrooms beginning in the fall.

"We might consider moving some (portables) in the future, based on enrollment," Rollins said.

Bester and Eastern elementary schools each have five portable classrooms.

Middle and high

In the past, no Washington County middle schools had portable classrooms.

However, two are being placed at E. Russell Hicks Middle School for the upcoming school year. It is the county's most crowded middle school, with officials anticipating that 789 students will be enrolled in the fall. That's just three students from the school's state-rated capacity.

Only three of the county's eight high schools have no portable classrooms - Clear Spring, Hancock and Washington County Technical high schools, according to documents.

Of the schools that remain, only Boonsboro High School did not receive additional portable classrooms this year. It still will have two portables when school begins in August.

South Hagerstown High School had five portable classrooms - the most of any high school - during the most recent school year. When school begins for the 2008-09 school year, that number will grow to 10, Rollins said.

The school is well over its state-rated capacity of 1,209 students. Officials estimate that 1,279 students will be enrolled in the upcoming school year - about 106 percent of its state-rated capacity, according to documents.

Williamsport High School had no portable classrooms last year, but will receive three for the upcoming school year. That school also is overcrowded by state standards.

North Hagerstown High School also had no portable classrooms last year, but will have two in the 2008-09 school year. Smithsburg High School had one last year, but will receive an additional portable for this year.

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