Monday, 2 October 2017

Facilitating Learning: New Portables Arriving

Providing our students with safe comfortable facilities is one of SD 60's core values. Meeting this requirement can be easier said than done in a growing district, replete with aging structures. Our newest school, the Margaret Ma Murray Community School, will be a great example of a 21st century learning space, but it is still several months from completion.  Most of our schools are already populated far beyond their normal capacities, with every available corner converted to classroom use. In such situations adding portables or modular classrooms becomes the go to option.

In BC portable classrooms have become synonymous with overcrowded schools. In Surrey, BC's largest school district,  50 additional portable classrooms were added this fall to bring the district's total to over 300. SD 60 is not quite at that level,  but a further 6 modular classrooms  are being installed this year in addition to others previously added to schools last year. Restored contract language with regards to class size, combined with a student population that is growing by about 200 students a year, means that classroom space has become increasingly hard to come by.

In the past, portables have had very bad PR. Once installed they rarely moved, yet their temporary nature frequently meant that they were inferior to regular classrooms in their construction, layout and feel. Students and teachers felt isolated and disconnected from the rest of the school. Such is not always the case with the newest modular classrooms. Separated from the bustle of busy hallways, they can be bigger, brighter and quieter than learning spaces in the main building. Upgrades in building codes and construction now mean that portables can be bright and vibrant spaces with the ability to better control their own environments. No longer afterthoughts, or a home for district furniture castoffs, they can be provided with new and innovative fixtures. In some schools, getting the portable can almost be an advantage, an opportunity to test out innovative ideas in teaching and classroom furnishings.

In a perfect world districts would have modern facilities designed with the comfort and learning of staff and students always in mind. Until that world arrives, SD 60 will utilize the available spaces and opportunities on hand, doing what we can to ensure all our facilities, portable and permanent alike, are designed to facilitate all learning matters.

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