The state has still not approved Groton’s plans for portable classrooms for and schools, and the director of school facilities said Tuesday there’s a strong possibility they will not be ready for the fall.
Wes Greenleaf, director of facilities and grounds for Groton Public Schools, said the department has been to the state three times, and is awaiting final review. The state employee in charge of the review is on special assignment, he told the Board of Education Tuesday.
If the portables are not ready, the district has a backup plan.
Middle schools are arranged differently than junior high schools, where every room is full. Instead, middle schools dedicate four classrooms to each team of students. Since there are eight periods in a day and students attend other classes like gym, not all rooms are occupied all the time.
Greenleaf said the district could accommodate the additional students for a couple of weeks by having classes like language arts on a cart, rather than in a dedicated room. The teacher would keep a computer and books on the cart and move from one room to the next, he explained.
“It not what to do all year, because it’s not ideal. But it works,” he said.
He said Groton would not have to resort to holding classes in the cafeteria or gymnasium. in the fall.
The portable classrooms are intended to be temporary, but because the state considers them permanent for the purpose of review, they are subject to the same building scrutiny as a new school.
Groton is eligible for 57 percent state reimbursement, and a condition of that money is obtaining state approval before the project goes out to bid.
Once Groton obtains final approval, the bid will take about a week and a half, Greenleaf said. The school department would then be at the mercy of the low bidder; if the company can start construction immediately and has all material, portables could be built in four weeks. If the company has other projects before Groton, work could be delayed.
In the worst case, Greenleaf said the project could take eight or nine weeks.
The next school year begins for students on Aug. 29.
“The only thing we’re waiting for is that final (state) review,” Greenleaf said. “It’s just so painful at this end.”