Units may eliminate up to 60 student parking spaces
Due to a significant expected increase in Blair?s student population next year, the administration is submitting a form asking for at least two and up to four portables portables for next year.
The portables would be placed either across from the loading dock or in the student parking lot. If the portables were placed in the lot, they would decrease the already limited number of parking spaces available to students by approximately 60 spots, Gainous said.
This year will be the third that the administration has tried to avoid portables, although Gainous said that portables will be necessary because the incoming class of 2006 is estimated to be over 900 students. That size would increase both Blair?s population by more than 200 students and the probability of portables next year, according to Gainous. ?If I had to make a decision right now, I would have to say we?d have to ask for at least two [portable units]," he said.
Blair was supposed to get two units two years ago, but a re-registration process that removed out-of-area students who were illegally attending Blair made portables unnecessary. After re-registration of current freshmen and sophomores last year, Blair?s population decreased by 154 students. However, not all of those students left Blair because of re-registration, according to Assistant Principal Carole Working.
Gainous is concerned about the numerous drawbacks to portables, including issues with security, weather and team-teaching. "Security was always an issue and always is," he said, citing his experience with 23 portables at the old Blair.
Gainous fears that vandalism and theft will be more common in the portables than in the main building. The portables would also draw security guards from inside to outside the building to prevent such unwanted behavior and to stop students from leaving school.
In addition, Gainous said student parking spaces would decrease in number. Increased student parking in the community could create more complaints, predicted Gainous.
The reopening of Northwood High School and formation of the Down-County Consortium were supposed to provide Blair with overcrowding relief. Delays in the renovation of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, housed at Northwood until this semester, postponed the availability of Northwood, which will not reopen until the fall of 2004.
During the 1999-2000 school year, MCPS Superintendent Jerry Weast had recommended a 28-room addition to Blair's building, according to Gainous. However, the building was not expanded because Gainous had concerns that Blair would become even more populated as a result. Instead, the consortium was developed.
Although Gainous continues to emphasize the re-registration process, Working will submit a request for at least two portables to the MCPS Department of Planning and Capital Programming (DPCP) tomorrow. The county, which has a limited number of portables, will then decide which schools need them, according to Robin Adler of the DPCP.
The county and state provide the funding for the portables, each of which costs an average of $40,000 to rent and set up the first school year and $6,000 to $8,000 for each additional year. Blair's budget will not be affected by the cost of portables.
Although schools sometimes compete for the county's portables, Adler said she believes Blair will receive portables. "If a high school is over-capacity to [Blair's] extent, we should be able to place a certain number of portables," said Adler.
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