Growing pains don’t have to be so painful.

They’re experiencing growing pains in Charles Town West Virginia.

Bulging enrollment at the South Jefferson Elementary School and other schools there means as many as a third of the students are housed in portable classrooms. I would say this is good for our industry, except educators and pupils alike in Charles Town aren’t happy with the classroom environment.

That’s a problem.
… Administrators say that their No. 1 concern about the portables is safety. Susan Wall, superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, said the portable classrooms pose a number of challenges on that front. For starters, she said it’s easier to keep unwanted visitors out of a main building than it is to keep them out of outdoor units. “You can control visitors in a main building,” she said.

Some schools in Jefferson County have tried to help limit the potential for unwanted guests by installing fencing near their modular classrooms. In Berkeley County, (Donald) Mitchell said the school system has opted to purchase larger portables that contain more classrooms. “It helps you with security, and they’re self-contained with restrooms so students don’t have to go inside the main building,” he said.

Wall said the units simply do not provide as good of a learning environment as a traditional classroom. “It’s healthier, it’s safer to be in a traditional building,” she said.

Principal Susan Zigler agreed that the portables are less than ideal. “I just know that it’s not the best environment,” she said.

There needs to be an industry-wide focus on building a better classroom through the modular process. High-performance, LEED focused, sustainable and healthy: those are the qualities that our classrooms need to become known for.

We are on our way. But there is still much work to be done.

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