Portable Classrooms

Updated on August 14, 2012
M.S. asks from Palo Alto, CA
9 answers

My daughter is in the second grade, and has been put into a portable classroom. It was initially reserved for the 6 grade classes based on being older and moving back and forth from the main building would be easier for older kids. They changed it this year. It smells dank and musty. They say it's because it sat all summer. I worry about mold. They say it's been checked, but I worry about the air quality.

If your child has been in a portable classroom, can you please tell me the pros and cons? I could not sleep last night thinking this is where my child will be all school year. The weather where I live is not condusive to an open campus. Just not happy right now. Looking to possibly have my daughter moved to another class.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I teach in a portable unit...LOVE it actually...Thought I would hate it, but I have my own bathroom, it's newer than the much older main building, I have tons of electrical outlets, newer technology wiring, my own thermostat, AND I have a piece of land in the front that I let my kids garden in....How cool is that?!

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answers from Dallas on

I feel that I am an expert on portable classrooms!

The school I taught at had 30, yes, THIRTY, portable classrooms. Grades 1-3 were in portables. The one I taught in was probably @ 15 years old, and was really pretty nice. Definitely no problems with mold. Most teachers liked them better than being in the building.

Quiet and few disruptions - in the school, there are always people walking by your room, looking in, etc.
You can do boisterous activities without bothering others
In our portables, you could staple in the walls so you could put stuff up all over the room - in the classroom, only on your 1-2 bulletin boards.
Climate control - you can adjust your own thermostat. In the building, you are hot or cold and just have to live with it.

Walking to and from the building for bathroom breaks and for art, music, PE, etc. in inclement weather. Our walkways were covered, but when it was rainy and windy, we got wet.
Distance from the main office and nurses office - if you have an emergency, it takes longer to get help.
Security - I worked in a high crime area, and our portables were broken in to frequently and electronics stolen out of them.
Security - you always need to send students in pairs when they go in to the building without the whole class.

I do NOT think you need to stay up at night worrying over this. The idea of your 7 year old walking through a snow storm to go potty isnt a great idea, but its not the end of the world either. I grew up in Maine and we had recess unless it was colder than ten degrees out.

I would worry MORE about what teacher she has than what classroom she has. However, I do think there are very legitimate concerns for a parent of a 7 year old and you have a good reason to ask to move her if you do not feel comfortable.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with Nikki and Mamazita. We had portables when I was in jr high and high school. It was not big deal. And, they were much cooler than the buildings were. My daughter has had classes in their portables the past two years (3rd & 4th grade). It was never a problem.

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answers from Dallas on

You lost sleep about this?! Wow, Momma, take a deep breath! Lots of schools use portable classrooms, and have been for a long time. In high school, we had like fifteen of them lined up before they finally expanded the school. Half of my classes were in portables. They were fine. They didn't smell musty (except for when the school year first started, because they had been closed up for the whole summer), and in some ways I actually preferred them because in the summer, they were a bit cooler than the main school building (they have their own thermostats).

I guess I don't understand your worry exactly...

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answers from San Francisco on

As a kid I LIKED being in the portable classrooms. They had air conditioning (which the original buildings did not) and the heat worked better too. Plus everything, carpets, desks, etc. was nicer and newer.
Give it a few weeks, I'm sure it just needs to air out.

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answers from Norfolk on

I totally understand your feelings!
My son was in portables for 7th grade and I was ANGRY when I found out.
It's like, how can you be a part of the school if you are practically banished from the building?
They were allowed to come in a few times for lockers, a bathroom break and lunch and that was it.
They don't get cleaned on a regular basis - cleaning staff resents having to go out and do it.
I felt like those things were tornado magnets.
What about weather, mud and homework blowing across the lawn (there was no room to bring back backs into the trailers)?
The stairs were slippery in winter.
My son, being one of the bigger boys, was pulled out of gym often to help carry equipment in and out of them.
They almost had a delivery truck back into one of them last year and it knocked out the power and computer connections for all 12 units.
The year book pretty much goes out of it's way to try to pretend the trailers don't exist (no pictures of them), like they are some sort of tawdry little secret but everyone knows about them.
Well, we survived.
It had it's good points and bad points.
But our son is hoping to not be in the portables again this year.

It helps if you can think of it as an adventure.

Personally - I think school building space should go to the kids first.
I see no reason why principals and administrative staff can't work out of the trailers.

In a sense, we've almost come full circle.
100 years ago we had 1 room school houses.

How difficult would it be to plop a trailer in any neighborhood have have tiny neighborhood schools every few blocks?
Will we get to a point where there will be no permanent school buildings/grounds?

Where can I find numbers about how much is spent on these things?
How much per year per school district?

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answers from Washington DC on

My dd was in one for a whole year. No problems. :-)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Wow, losing sleep over this and considering moving your daughter??

I've been a student in portables and a teacher in portables. Quite frankly I liked it.

1. you control the temp vs the school district's computer system controlling the temp

2. there are FAR fewer distractions because you are in your own private area vs an open area with teachers, children, parents, coming through all the time.

Your child will be just fine in a portable. There are much bigger things later on to lose sleep over..

Relax and Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My mom used to work in one and it was actually bigger than the other classroom in the building and much cozier than the cinder block rooms. The kids weren't sequestered out there any more than another child in the building. My SD also used a portable classroom here and there. Her school built ramps and covered walkways between the trailer/portable room and the building so while it was a chilly walk some days, they did have some protection from rain and snow. She did fine. In the event of an emergency, the kids will move to a better location, just as kids in a room with exposed windows will move to an interior room.

Which is not to say that I love them, but they aren't horrible by default. If you have concerns, maybe you and other parents can talk to the PTA.

1 mom found this helpful
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