Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Little Miami split on portable classrooms

School board to vote again

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MORROW — Portables may be the solution to the Little Miami Local Schools' projected classroom crunch.

        The board of education was split Monday on whether to buy portable classrooms for next fall. They'll meet Friday to vote on the issue again because board member Mike Dane was absent from Monday's meeting and would have cast the deciding vote.

        It would cost the district about $142,000 to buy three used portables, which would house a total of six classrooms at Butlerville and Maineville elementary schools, Superintendent Michael Virelli said.

        The district needs to move quickly if it is to buy the portables in time for the fall, he said. “You need enough lead time to make sure you get those things on line for the start of the school year.”

        The district has discussed five other options to ease crowding in the district, which may be hit with unprecedented growth next year:

        • Split sessions, which Mr. Virelli said was a worst-case scenario and board members have not discussed seriously.

        • Converting facilities such as gymnasiums, computer labs and libraries to additional classroom space.

        • Leasing space, such as retail, light industrial, churches and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8202.

        • Constructing new classroom space.

        • Transferring students from one building to another within the district.

        Mr. Virelli said most portables have air conditioning and electric heat, and are well-lit. The units would be placed close to the two elementary schools.

        “When you're space-poor, I think this would be a very good solution to the problem,” he said.

        The board will make the final decision.

        Board member Gary Stringer, who voted in support of buying portables, said he thinks they offer the district the most flexibility. “By getting the portables, if we have more growth than we're anticipating, we'll have someplace to put (students),” Mr. Stringer said.

        Board President Debbie Holliday and board member Joyce Sanker, who voted against buying portables Monday, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

        Ms. Sanker said last week she supports transferring students to another elementary school building because portable classrooms are expensive.

        The Lakota Local Schools have used portables for 15 years, said Larry Glass, the district's director of special projects.

        Nancy Follmer, principal at Lakota's Liberty Elementary School, said having portables in the district “has been very positive.”

        The advantages for students and teachers are that most of the units are air-conditioned and in some cases are larger than some classrooms.

        Among the drawbacks: Students and teachers are removed from the main school building, and wintry weather means the district has to ensure entry ramps into the units are well-salted, Mrs. Follmer said.


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