CMS reverses decision on portable classrooms at new Bain Elementary
When the under-construction Bain Elementary opens in August, the campus won’t include any mobile classrooms. The move is an exception to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ rule that mobile units aren’t moved until they’re needed at another location.
Guy Chamberlain, associate superintendent of CMS Auxiliary Services, said this week the six units at Bain will be removed because the school needs the space for parking.
It costs about $35,000 to move one mobile classroom, he said.
CMS currently has 1,238 mobile units, 284 of which are not being used. Of the total number of mobiles in the county, 109 are located at schools in the Matthews-Mint Hill area, Chamberlain said.
“We’re not going to move a mobile just to move it,” he said.
In the mid-2000s, CMS schools purchased about 150 mobile units to use as additional classrooms to meet the need of the growing number of students. Chamberlain said the intent was to eventually build more classrooms, but when the recession hit in 2008, growth stopped and the idea was placed on the backburner.
While the mobile units are a big help to overcrowded schools, Chamberlain said they’re merely a temporary solution to a permanent problem. And while a capital project such as building more permanent classrooms is a huge endeavor, it’s more economically sound in the long run, he said.
The cost of operating a mobile unit is $1.20 per square foot, per year, versus $1.12 per square foot, per year for permanent classrooms.
“Clearly the cost per square foot to operate (a mobile unit) is higher,” Chamberlain said. “They’re less energy efficient. It’s a substantial expenditure of funds on temporary facilities. When you put in money to pay for temporary facilities rather than brick and mortar, it takes away from what you have.”