West U Elementary Needs More Portable Classrooms to Accommodate Students
West University Elementary School will be adding two additional portable classrooms to its campus this school year to accommodate an increase in enrollment.
The Houston Independent School District applied for a variance from the West U Building and Standard Commission to allow up to five temporary transportable classrooms; one existing classroom to remain and two additional classrooms for the upcoming school year with a provision to add two more should the school attendance mandate. They also requested that the variance be valid for five years.
Prior to 2002, the city required a permit from development services to place a portable building on the school’s site. The laws were changed to require a variance to extend the allowable time the classroom could be on the property.
The BSC recently approved three temporary transportable classrooms for a two year period with a provision that if the buildings are not being used for classroom use they need to be removed from the property.
Some of the BSC members said they had no problem with having portable classrooms on the property as long as the school had a need for them, but several members were not in favor of an advance provision.
“If the needs there, let’s address it,” BSC member David Flame said, adding that he doesn’t want to approve additional classrooms if there’s not an immediate need for it.
“I’m more than happy to do what the need is now,” BSC member Muddy McDaniel said.
West U Elementary Principal John Threet said enrollment has risen significantly in the last 16 years. In 1996, enrollment was 867 students. This year, the school is projecting 1,240 students compared to last year’s 1,217 students.
“Our enrollment continues to grow,” he said. “It’s a direct result of the school’s success.”
Threet said he doesn’t like temporary buildings and would rather not have them, but they’re a necessity.
When asked if the school had a long term solution to its enrollment situation, Threet said temporary classrooms are more economical than building a new wing and future renovation plans are doubtful.
“These are y’alls kids,” he said. “We’re a victim of our own success.”
Threet said if enrollment continues to increase each year, the school district could come in and carve out a section of students zoned to West U Elementary and send them to another school.