CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) — Charleston County School District (CCSD) will continue using portable classrooms in the upcoming school year, and both teachers and parents have expressed concerns about overcrowding.
CCSD officials said the trailers lie within an “established, secure perimeter” of the school’s campus.
“If someone does get beyond the outside fenceline into the campus, just like the main building, the trailers will have an exterior door that is locked when students are in there,” said Jeffrey Borowy, CCSD’s chief operating officer.
Borowy acknowledged staff members will have to monitor students entering and exiting portable classrooms with “extra vigilance.”
CCSD teacher Jody Stallings is concerned that responsibility will fall on teachers, who already have their hands full preparing lesson plans between class periods.
“The school should be like a family. And we should be under one roof,” he said.
Stallings doubles as director for the Charleston Teacher Alliance — one of the largest teacher advocacy organizations in South Carolina. He said he has taught in portable classrooms for several years during his career.
“One of the things it does is it widens the whole campus. Like silly putty, when you pull it too far, you start to get these little holes – and those could be holes in security,” he said.
Those holes in security can be especially dangerous during an emergency — like a school shooting, or violent fight between students, Stallings said.
“The farther away you are from the main campus, the more vulnerable the students are,” Stallings said. “We’ve had teachers tell us in the past that sometimes it has been ages before police, security or administrators could get out to those trailers to try to calm everything down.”
While he said he does not question the “good intentions” of the district, and claims security has always been a priority for CCSD, Stallings said it might only take a couple of weeks for teachers and administrators to become “complacent.”
“With schools, there are a thousand different things going on every single hour, so it’s easy to take your eye off the ball,” Stallings said. “Unfortunately, one moment of taking your eye off the ball can lead to the loss of life.”
CCSD explained the reason schools like Lucy Garrett Beckham High School have to use portable classrooms is because of inaccurate projections of student enrollment in years past.
“I would admittedly say that our projections for the school four years ago were not accurate, and I’m responsible for that,” Borowy said in an interview Thursday.
Stallings said the top priority for the district going forward should be to plan in advance for overcrowding, so portable classrooms don’t have to be used in the first place.
“The first thing they should do is put every child in a classroom in the building. If for whatever reason they can’t do that, then they have to make allowances for more vigilance to take place outside in those trailers,” he said.
As for concerned parents, Stallings urges people to continue voicing their concerns to the district.
“Don’t give up. Let your voices be heard. And eventually, they will. Because, eventually, our school boards respond to the people,” Stallings said.
CCSD was not able to provide further details on the use of portable trailers in the upcoming school year as of Friday afternoon.