Lewis-Palmer School District 38 adding modular classrooms as short-term solution to overcrowding | Education | gazette.com

2022-06-25 09:28:43 By : Ms. Iris Li

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Lewis-Palmer Middle School at 1848 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School at 1848 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

MONUMENT • Portable classrooms will return to Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

Voters’ rejection last month of two financing proposals on the ballot that would have provided money to build a new school, convert an elementary school to a middle school and make other improvements, left school board members scrambling for short-term solutions to meet increasing enrollment.

“No matter what, we’d have to do it a year later; we’d have to move forward with this,” said D-38 Superintendent Karen Brofft.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School is the top priority with the building over capacity this school year, according to district officials. Space is so tight that the principal’s office and the teacher’s lounge have been converted into other uses for instructional purposes.

Two modular units with four classrooms holding 28 students each, for a total of 112 students, will be added to the middle school grounds in August, according to the plan the board recently approved.

Board member Chris Taylor said that doesn’t mean common areas such as hallways, libraries, cafeterias and gymnasiums won’t continue to be crowded.

Three elementary schools are slated to get portable buildings as well.

Bear Creek Elementary will have two units containing four classrooms, where preschool classes will move. The school will shrink five preschool classes to four starting in the fall.

One modular unit of two classrooms will be added at Kilmer Elementary School, which likely will place sixth-graders in the temporary buildings.

And another modular unit of two classrooms will be set up at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School.

D-38 removed portables when Palmer Ridge High opened a decade ago. A modular still sits at Lewis-Palmer High School, but it’s being used as a senior center. Another outside the administration building is being used for storage. New building codes mean those cannot be moved to new locations, officials said.

The new modular classrooms will run $708,800 for initial startup, with an additional $40,000 per year per unit in leasing and utilities costs, said Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Wangeman.

The plan is projected to meet the needs of the district through 2022. except for Kilmer Elementary, which is expected to need an additional modular unit in 2020, she said.

The board also is weighing seeking voter approval next year for a bond issue solely for a new elementary school.

Among the drawbacks to modular buildings are security concerns, the extra costs, additional maintenance and the physical separation of students and staff.

Each unit will have swipe card access for security purposes, fencing with gate access, exterior lighting, cameras, close access to the school building, utility hookups, including air conditioning, one restroom per classroom, Wi-Fi access and network connection.

The goal, Wangeman said, is to not have students who are in the modular “be at a learning disadvantage due to their classroom.”

Brofft said a committee examined many options to address crowding, including out-of-the-box solutions, such as moving all preschoolers to Lewis-Palmer High School, where crowding is not a concern.

“We did try a preschool at a high school and it was a failure because parents did not feel comfortable with it,” Brofft said.

None of the other solutions seemed as good, officials said.

“Why we think this is the right thing to do is we continue to maintain reasonable spaces for instruction and gain some space for instruction back,” Wangeman said.

Elementary school principals support adding modular buildings, Prairie Winds Principal Aileen Finnegan told the board this week, adding that it’s also the preference among parents.

“When we think about the benefits, it’s the ability to maintain the current number we have in (preschool) enrollment,” she said, “knowing that having kids in (preschool) is so important to their school success.”

The modulars will be ordered in January and installed in August.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

It’s likely that some Lewis-Palmer School District 38 students who don’t live within the district will have to go elsewhere next August.

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