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Education Government The Almighty Buck

Temporary Classrooms Are Bad For the Environment, and Worse For Kids 187

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the false-economy dept.
tcd004 (134130) writes "You've always suspected those trailer-type portable classrooms are no good, right? It turns out you're right. Analysis of prefabricated classrooms in Washington shows the structures often don't allow for proper ventilation, leading to terrible air quality for kids. Students in temporary classrooms have higher rates of absenteeism than those in standard classrooms. And the energy-inefficient structures often become permanent, sucking on school energy bills for decades, and requiring more upkeep than permanent classrooms. What's needed are new designs for healthy, sustainable temporary classrooms."
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Temporary Classrooms Are Bad For the Environment, and Worse For Kids

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  • Re:Flawed? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:50AM (#47107889)

    Yes, but if land is at a premium, then sometimes you need to relocate while the new structure is built. My district is replacing every single school in the system one at a time, and so they need to use trailers for the students who are currently having their school rebuilt. No one thinks this is ideal, but no one has suggested a better idea, either.

  • by impossiblefork (978205) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @09:58AM (#47108005)
    No, it's actually quite right.

    Just yesterday I happened upon a presentation by a company called Swegon, which designs and manufactures ventillation system equipment, in which they showed a material from a British researcher who (I believe on their proposal) had arranged measurements of student performance as a function of class CO2 levels and classroom temperature and the effect on the speed with which students performed diverse simple tasks, like adding numbers, multiplication, etc. and overall it turned out to drop by 30% as CO2 reached the worst levels.

    In some schools the CO2 levels reached about 2000 ppm. The idea that this doesn't affect people is ridiculous and properly designed ventillation systems are important.
  • Re:Oxymoron (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:08AM (#47108121) Homepage

    Some of these old school building have inefficient boilers that are over 40 years old... they aren't exactly winning any efficiency awards. Moving students to a temporary location and then rehabilitating or replacing the old facility can be a net environmental gain.

    Sure, that's one possibility.

    But, allow me to offer another.

    Where I live, schools seem to be going up quite fast. Without exception, within a few months of the school opening (if not before), they truck in the portables.

    Brand new schools, with portables.

    So, either school boards are uniformly stupid, and can't add. Or cities are failing to make the developers pay enough to build adequate schools for the amount of houses they build. Or school boards are so under funded, they start off designing a school they know will be outgrown before its even open.

    In any case, from what I see, they're being used to compensate for short-sighted planning or too-small budgets on brand new schools more than they're being used for generating any net environmental gain due to remediating old heating systems.

    But every single school near me, some built withing the last 3 years, most built in the last 10, has portables. And they more are less going to be there permanently.

  • Re:Flawed? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2014 @10:20AM (#47108277)

    This sounds like someone who has no idea how things are done.

    I've participated in my local school district's planning process. They hire a demographer to project growth patterns and plan accordingly. They're currently planning to put a bond proposal on the November ballot that, if passed, would have kids in newly built schools in 3 years, which is about as fast as they can be designed and built. The demographer projects growth as far out as possible, but you know what? It's not an exact science. There are x number of undeveloped lots in the school district. (This is the primary driver of student growth.) When will they be built on? No one knows. Will they be single family houses or apartment complexes? No one knows. I have no idea how it could be remotely possible to predict student growth more than 3-4 years out.

    Then, there's the question of the voters. When the district decides it needs new buildings, it has to go to the voters to get permission to borrow money to build new buildings. If the voters don't pass a bond election, the district has to do things like rent portable buildings.

    "Years of bureaucracy" and "study that projected the next 20 years" is not at all the reality in my experience. (Which is admittedly small.)

    The federal and state governments, to the best of my knowledge, have zero input into local districts' growth plans.

    Bidding that takes place 10 to 15 years past the original analysis? Geez, in what school district do you live? That's certainly not the case in my district in north Texas.

    Using the most optimistic numbers? Again, not in my district. They use not only conservative numbers for growth, but for tax revenue projections as well. We project a 5% property valuation for year 1 after the bond is passed, a 3% increase in valuation for year 2, and 0% increase for years 3 and on.

    So, I wonder, Grim Reefer: are you speaking from knowledge, or are you pulling "facts" out of your ass?

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