The search for space continues

photo by Aaron Wu

Due to an increase in student enrollment and a need for more classroom space, the PHS world languages and social studies teachers have moved out of their offices and will soon relocate to four trailers on campus.

According to Dafna Kendal, the chair of the district’s Facilities Committee, the move has opened up several classrooms at PHS and helped reduce class sizes.

“The overall growth in the district has been ten percent in three years, so we got 300 students in three years. So part of the responsibility [of the Facilities Committee] is to make sure there is adequate space for everyone,” said Kendal.

Because trailer foundations, air conditioning, and bathrooms need to be set up for the trailers, the total cost is around $372,000. It was taken from the capital reserve fund, which is money that the district is able to use in emergencies.

The trailers are projected to be completed on September 25, allowing PHS teachers to start moving in within the following week.

The trailers are expected to be used until more classroom space is built. At the moment, the trailers have not yet been filled to maximum capacity, and the number of trailers is not expected to increase.

“One of the concerns is parking, and we lost four parking spots to the trailers,” Kendal said. “We don’t want to lose any more, [knowing] how hard parking is. Based on the demographics projections, we’re [satisfied with the number of] trailers for now.”

Timothy Campbell, a PHS history teacher, believes that the trailers provide a good solution for the growing student population.

“The students’ needs are first. It’s our role and responsibility as teachers to make that a priority. I don’t think we should be turning students away or be asking any students to leave [the school district]. We have a responsibility to house and educate as many students under our roof [as possible],” said Campbell.

Furthermore, students also think that increasing classroom space will be beneficial for all.

“I think [implementing the trailers is] a good idea. Some of the classes are pretty crowded. Some of the people in my math class [have] had to stand for the past couple of days, so more room is always a good thing,” said Darcy Chang ’19.

While the teachers have not yet moved into the trailers, there have been some concerns regarding their accessibility.

“I don’t know if we’re going to meet [with students in the trailers] as often as we met in our regular offices. Thus far this year, having no permanent office yet, I’ve been meeting [with students] a lot in the classrooms, and that might be what happens more often just because [our offices are] outside,” said history teacher Kian Barry.

As a long-term solution to accommodating a larger student population, the district is conducting preliminary planning for new construction at PHS.

“We’re planning to build onto the high school, and that includes expanding the cafeteria, as well as adding more classrooms and space for science labs,” Kendal said.

Plans for expansion must first be submitted to the New Jersey Department of Education for approval before being put on a ballot for taxpayers. While the district continues to brainstorm new additions to PHS facilities, the district will be holding a referendum in September 2018 for taxpayers to vote on the expansion.

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