Opinion: Portable classroom trailers need to go


Bre Kozusko

The trailers outside of the high school are falling apart and molding. They make Starr’s Mill High School look unkempt and may cause health concerns for students.

Tru Robbins, Staff Writer

In the late 1990s, Starr’s Mill High School reached maximum capacity, so trailers were brought in to make up for the much needed space. The remains of them can still be seen at the end of the faculty parking lot. Over 20 years later, the trailers are now an eyesore.

The trailers create an ugly appearance and are a waste of space and money.

— Staff Writer Tru Robbins

The trailers create an ugly appearance and are a waste of space and money. The last person to use one regularly was speech language pathologist Shannon Gagliano, who now works with her students in the attendance office. 

Currently, the trailers function as storage facilities for the school. They hold supplies for events such as homecoming, leftover classroom objects like desks and chairs, and other equipment. In addition, once a year, the forensics class uses them for a crime scene lab.

Because they are rarely used and not seeing any attention, the portable classroom trailers have become home to wild plants and stray animals. At Rising Starr Middle School, there is a black cat famous among the students who walks near the bus loop while students come in.

Along with animals, many plants have taken home to the trailers. Weeds overcrowd the area around them, and vines grow on the wood bases, making Starr’s Mill look unkempt and ugly.

Getting rid of the trailers would be a great change of scenery to make the school look much more taken care of. The only problem would be moving them. 

To actually move the trailers out would cost a hefty amount of money — much more than to just clean them up so they look more pleasing on the outside.

The school is paying unnecessarily for spaces that shouldn’t even be there, including paying for electricity and occasional repairs.

Where would all this go? Starr’s Mill has a weight training room below the gym bleachers that is currently not in use. This is just an empty space waiting to have some purpose. It is an ideal space for storage.

Beyond their lack of outward appeal, an even worse problem may reside in the heart of the trailers. Given that portable classrooms are constructed of pressed wood materials, they are perfect vicinities for formaldehyde a colorless, flammable at-room temperature gas that has a strong odor. Being exposed to this gas has been proven to cause possible health issues including irritation of ears, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory illnesses.

Many schools with old trailers have reported higher levels of formaldehyde within the trailers. An investigation held in Illinois found that the average amount was 32.4 ppb, which is about 10ppb above the “safe amount.” Travel trailers proved to have the highest levels.

Portable classrooms at Starr’s Mill High School fall within the travel trailer category. Although they aren’t used for any regular classes, they are still available for students to enter for homecoming decorations and occasional labs. These students may be exposed to potential health risks.

However, there is no way to be certain of any potential health risks without testing the trailers. According to Assistant Superintendent for Operations Mike Sanders, no testing has been done inside the portable classrooms at Starr’s Mill.

The time for the mobile classrooms has long passed. It is time to remove them from the campus, so the school can not only look better but also eliminate potential health threats.

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