Faced with a growing population and limited county budget, Silverbrook Elementary School is expanding with modular classrooms that are a compromise between trailers and a full-scale addition.
The Fairfax County School Board awarded the contract Jan. 9 for modular classrooms in Silverbrook, as well as London Towne and Oak Hill elementary schools in Centreville, and Mount Eagle in Alexandria. Milestone Construction Services Inc. won the contract on their bid for $5,831,000.
At Silverbrook, the modular classrooms will replace eight classrooms that are in trailers in the rear of the school. Silverbrook principal Bob Holderbaum is looking forward to the additions.
"The nice thing about them, they will have a bathroom and one entrance," he said.
Fairfax County Public Schools spokesperson Paul Regnier talked about the modular classrooms that are versatile, like trailers, but stationary, with bathrooms and hallways.
"It's a new technology we started using a couple of years ago. It's got hallways and classrooms. The parents are much happier with these than trailers," he said, but admitted that when they are constructed, they resemble trailers.
Glasgow Elementary School in Falls Church is one school where the modular classrooms are in use. Advantages to these include mobility and cost. One disadvantage is students’ being caught in a heavy rain.
There will be a canopy at the entrance to limit the exposure, Holderbaum said.
Holderbaum isn't sure what will be housed in the new additions but noted that the sixth-graders are currently in the trailers, which sets them apart.
"We put our older kids out there, the sixth-graders. They look at it like a rite of passage," he said.
Sixth-grader Kayla Reisinger felt there was a good and bad aspect of the current trailers. Space is a factor. Umbrellas and raincoats are a necessity, according to Kayla.
"It's small. It's not the best, but it's OK. There is no place to put your backpack," she said.
Kayla did like being away from the younger students, though.
"It's good because we're the oldest," she said.
Holderbaum is currently making preconstruction preparations for the new additions and plans to take a look at how they are used in other schools. The new classrooms will be completed in June for the coming school year.
"I plan to take a team of teachers to see how others have used the buildings. I think people are much more excited about this approach," he said.
Silverbrook's student population hovered around 1,000 students in past years and currently has just over 900 this year. The new Lorton Station elementary school and houses planned for that region will affect the student populations. A change in school boundary zoning will take place when that occurs, said Holderbaum.