Walking up to the front doors and driving along the street at Hall Elementary, it’s hard to see the 17 portable buildings situated at the back of the campus.
The portable buildings are home to six fifth grade classrooms, six auxiliary classrooms for classes such as dyslexia, special education and other small group instruction, Hall Elementary Principal Stephanie King said.
One of the big metal buildings first arrived in 2003, which now makes it 14 years old.
Today, there are 36 portables that spread across seven of Clear Creek ISD’s 44 campuses, the first which arrived at Clear Lake Intermediate more than 30 years ago in 1986 said Paul Miller, director of facility services.
“Portable buildings are intended to be used as a short term solution for growth,” Miller said.
If a $487 million bond proposal is approved by voters in May, district officials say they will be able to eliminate 36 portable buildings at Clear Lake Intermediate, Clear Lake City Elementary, Hall Elementary, League City Elementary, Ross Elementary, Stewart Elementary and Whitcomb Elementary.
The proposed bond would result in a $0.035 tax rate increase. That would equate to a $5.47 per month increase for a home owner of a median home valued at $223,635.
The bond would allow for the district to increase classroom and group learning spaces, update libraries, re-utilize existing administration areas for instruction and construct the district’s 27th elementary campus along Highway 96 in League City.
Removing portables and replacing them with additional classroom and group learning spaces would provide students with a safer learning environment that is better suited for instruction, district officials said.
When there is bad weather in the area, often teachers have to bring their classes that are housed in portable buildings into the main part of the campus.
In those cases, students have to be moved inside to the cafeteria or double up in another classroom, King said.
“As educators, our two most important goals are to make sure our kids are safe and that they are learning,” Moses said. “That’s our top priority.”
There are also learning opportunities that are missed during the instructional time lost when children are having to walk to and from the main building at Stewart Elementary to use the restroom, visit the nurse or go to the main office, Principal Britani Moses said.
“It takes about two to three minutes to get to the main office and three to four minutes to get to any of their block classes – plus every time they have to go to the restroom or lunch,” Moses said. “The time adds up.”
Because there’s no running water in Stewart’s portables, science teachers have to bring their own to their classrooms if they want to do an experiment that requires water, she said.
Students and teachers can also experience issues with technology because portable buildings are not properly equipped for wireless accessibility.
Portable buildings also cause drainage problems, which makes the ground around them very soggy and a breeding ground for mosquitoes, Miller said.
Moving them also costs on the upwards of $75,000 to $85,000, he said. That’s because it costs money to not only move the portable building, but to set it, install an intercom system and fire alarms.
“They’re not efficient,” Miller said. “These buildings put out about 1,000 gallons a day from their AC units.”
They’re also placed on part of campus property which takes up valuable real estate for play activities for students. At Stewart and Hall Elementary, the portable buildings take up most of the extra property at each campus.