EV considers buying portable classrooms for $6.2 million

The East Valley School District is seeking public comment on a plan to acquire $6.2 million in nonvoted debt to buy two portable classroom buildings each for Trent, Trentwood, Otis Orchards and East Farms schools.

Executive Director of Operations Brian Wallace said each school would receive a quad portable, also called a modular, building that would be able to hold four classrooms and a triplex portable with the capability to be used as open space or three classrooms.

He said the buildings are portable by the state’s definition, since they could be picked up and moved, but really, they have life spans of more than 30 years. There will be restrooms, HVAC, wireless networks, wired networks, mounted projectors, white boards and tack board walls.

With the nonvoted debt, taxpayers will not see any increase in the levy funds they already pay. The money will come out of the general fund, of which 25 percent comes from local levy dollars and levy equalization funds from the state.

The closure of Mountain View Middle School is saving the district from $450,000 from $500,000 a year in personnel, utilities and other costs, Wallace said, allowing the district to pay for the new debt.

If the school board directs Wallace to move forward with the plan, once the details are hammered out with the financing and what the mortgage payment will be, they must approve a resolution to accept the debt. Wallace hopes to have the portables in place by Aug. 15 in preparation for the 2012-’13 school year.

“It’s going to be a fast and furious summer,” he said.

The portables are needed in order to facilitate the transition to a K-8 system. The elementary schools next year will serve students from kindergarten through the seventh grade. Wallace said students in the seventh grade will attend classes in the portables in the morning, then travel to East Valley Middle School for lunch and an afternoon of enrichment classes, such as music, physical education, and hopefully science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses. While the seventh-graders are away, this will free the seventh-grade teachers at the elementary schools to work with sixth-graders for intervention and enrichment classes.

One option for the portables explored by the district was to have the East Valley High School construction class build them. Wallace said since it was the first year of the construction class, they weren’t quite ready to take on such a project. Another problem would be making sure the construction of the classrooms would be able to get the correct permitting.

“If you’re building a classroom space, there’s way more requirements on Labor and Industries and permits and codes than a regular residential house,” he said. The students in that class are, however, busy learning their craft, working on constructing greenhouses, garden sheds and the district has plans for the class to renovate the press box at the football field.

The hearing Tuesday will include a time for public comment.

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