Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Cramped quarters, crowded buildings

[IMAGE] Erin New works with Paul Crank (standing), Justin Smith, and Jessica Wethington in a former closet she shares.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
Erin New, a first-year speech pathologist at Quebec Heights Elementary, began the school year in a classroom but now teaches out of a windowless storage room.

It's a 24-by-11-foot closet she shares with a technology specialist. New's space measures about 10 by 11 feet.

School officials needed her old room midyear for a classroom because the Price Hill school is so overcrowded.

In 2000, Quebec Heights converted from a magnet school with a math and science focus to a neighborhood school. Enrollment nearly doubled-from 550 to 1,000-before settling around 800. The school has seven classroom trailers.

Cincinnati Public Schools has 129 temporary classrooms in trailers and is adding 10 more because of overcrowding.
New works with small groups of one to four students who need help with language and speech skills. Her room is divided by bookshelves, leaving her with just enough space for a table and desk.

"The environment isn't the most conducive for learning," she says. "I feel like I don't have enough room."

She would love to add a white marker board on an easel, which she said would help her students with prompting and visual cues, but she says it won't fit.

Nevertheless, New says she's glad to be located near the library. When the windows are open there, she feels the breeze in her storage closet.

Jennifer Mrozowski

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