Jackson-Reed adds portables as overcrowding worsens


Charlotte Comrack

TRAILER TIME – Portable classrooms dropped into the school parking lot. An overflow of students created a need for more space.

Isadora Groves, News Editor

Seven portable classrooms arrived in the faculty parking lot on September 28th, as a step to tackle overcrowding at Jackson-Reed. Their installation and preparation will continue until January, when they should be ready for use by the second semester. 

Portable classrooms, also called demountables or modular classrooms, were first announced to the Jackson-Reed community in late May of the 2021-2022 school year as part of a comprehensive plan to address overcrowding. With a carrying capacity of 1,840 students, Jackson-Reed is well over capacity with approximately 2,300 students and growing. 

Many classrooms are packed, and some teachers are instructing in spaces that aren’t fit for purpose. 

“We have some classrooms that are using science [labs], we have some classrooms using storage spaces,” Brandon Hall, Strategy and Logistics Director at Jackson-Reed said. He clarified that the portables will accommodate between 24-28 students each.

They will allow the school to transfer classes from ill-fitted learning spaces in the main building to “open up space in the building and guarantee that kids are getting instruction in a nice comfortable space,” Hall continued. 

However, before the portable classrooms can support students, several preconditions must be met, such as the construction crews having to retrofit trailers in order to accommodate class sizes.

 “We [also] need to make sure that the pipes are connected to the school, water lines, and electricity.” Hall said. 

Additionally, because the portables are detached from the main building there are still security and safety logistics to work out.

 “[The school] is working out logistics with the DCPS security team but there are going to be additional security guards stationed outside to mitigate all safety concerns,” Hall explained. 

The portables also complicate parking for faculty. The trailers will take up most of the parking available in the faculty parking lot, with the exception of a couple spaces. Many staff members will need to park along Chesapeake street. “We got a proof for 40 parking permits for teachers,” Hall said.

As for the few parking spaces that remain in the parking lot, teachers will have the opportunity to apply for these spaces. Science teacher Amanda Dezenzo explained that they will be given out based on seniority. 

Dezenzo added that she has begun taking the metro. “[As teachers] we really have to be team players here, when there is limited parking.” Dezenzo said.

While the portable classrooms may tackle some overcrowding issues, they’re not a long term solution to an ongoing problem. 

Both Hall and Dezenzo stated that they do not believe that portable classrooms are going to address overcrowding completely.

“We are just putting a band-aid over a problem that we are going to deal with over time.” Dezenzo said.

DCPS recognizes this and is progressing with other plans to solve overcrowding in the long term. To decrease class sizes at Jackson-Reed, the District plans to open the MacArthur Neighborhood School in the Palisades. This high school will prioritize students from Hardy Middle School, aiming to enroll 800 students. The MacArthur school will draw students who would have normally attended Jackson-Reed which will help mitigate overcrowding at Jackson-Reed in the long term. •