Schools shouldn’t be mobile home parks
October 21, 2005
Entire generations of students have now been educated in Carson City (and across the nation, for that matter) on school campuses that have come to resemble mobile home parks.
They deserve better.
Portable classrooms once seen as quick fixes or temporary solutions to population shifts have become, instead, the acceptable answer to “What do we do instead of asking the taxpayers to build real buildings?”
We couldn’t find a single study that examines whether the quality of education declines or increases for students taught in portable classrooms. Common sense tells us that so many factors – the teacher, the materials – are more important that it’s probably not relevant. But our gut tells us that going to school in a “temporary” building detracts from the educational experience that shapes the rest of our lives.
We did find numerous studies showing portable classrooms, while cheap initially, have much higher maintenance costs and environmental shortcomings unless they are replaced on a regular basis with newer, more efficient models.
And that’s become the central conundrum of portable classrooms – most of the time they become permanent classrooms, in place for decades, an inferior substitute for the real thing.
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Carson City school officials are again taking up the question of whether they should plan to build or continue to make do with portable classrooms, such as the more than 25,000 square feet being used at Carson Middle School.
The analysis must certainly focus on the finances, comparing short- and long-term construction and maintenance costs. Taxpayers must be served.
But cost can’t be the only consideration. And new construction isn’t the only alternative, because Stewart remains an underused resource in Carson City.
We’ve got nothing against mobile home parks. They just don’t strike us as a satisfactory goal for our school system.