In part 3 of her special series on the deteriorating conditions in trailers used as classrooms in the city, NY1's Lindsey Christ now looks at what principals and teachers say about those trailers, which were supposed to be pulled from service years ago. She filed the following report.
Principals don't usually openly criticize the Department of Education, but school facility reports make it very clear what many think of the aging trailers still being used as classrooms.
According to the report for the trailers at P.S. 276 in Brooklyn, "The Principal had the following comments: 1) The flooring is in need of repair. 2) The roof leaks. 3) Toilet Rooms are in need of repair. 4) Plumbing is in need of repair. 5) Some A/C units are not working. 6) Ramps are in need of repair. 7) Handrails are loose. 8) Awnings are in need of repair."
There was a similar list in the report on P.S. 214, also in Brooklyn.
"The temperature is difficult to control; it's either too hot or too cold. All the toilets are deficient in some way. The floors are rotted in some classrooms. The courtyard floods during heavy rain," the report says.
At P.S. 255, a special education school in Queens, the principal wrote that the trailers are "falling apart faster than they can be fixed. And the constant maintenance is very disruptive to students with special needs."
At P.S. 219 in Brooklyn, the principal was blunt: "Due to the deteriorated conditions of the Transportable the Principal requires the unit be removed."
The trailers at I.S. 302 in East New York are covered in mold. Around the corner, the area around the trailers at P.S. 290 is also visibly damp. But the principal wants them removed for a different reason: "rodent infestation."
In Queens, Arthur Goldstein, a veteran teacher, actually chooses to teach in a trailer. He said it's because the main building at Francis Lewis High School is so overcrowded, the conditions in the trailers are actually preferable.
"They're bad when it snows, they're bad when it rains, they're bad when it's hot, they're bad when it's cold, but they're better than half rooms and they're better than rooms that are shaped like bowling alleys where no matter where you walk, there are 30 kids you can't see," Goldstein said. "They're better than the alternatives, but the best alternative is to not put 4,200 kids in a school meant for 2,100 kids.
At P.S. 159 in Brooklyn, though there's a positive spin: students won't spend all day staring at the gang graffiti in the schoolyard. That's because there are no windows on that side of the trailer.