Two more portable units added to ease NBHS overcrowding

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By Brian Slattery

School board members voted unanimously Thursday to buy two portable classrooms to ease overcrowding at North Brunswick High School.

North Brunswick High School was built to house 870 students. 

But Steve Miley, Brunswick County Schools’ executive director of operations, told the board at the Nov. 8 meeting NBHS was higher than capacity by 120 students. Eleven teachers have to use carts to move around to open classrooms because there is no more teaching space available in the school.

Miley presented the board with a proposal to buy two portables from Modular Technologies. The units were built in 2008, sold to New Hanover County schools, then sold back to the company where they were refurbished before being resold.

“This will not solve the problem completely, but it will ease the burden,” Miley said.

The cost of purchasing and placing both portables is $68,932. The school system installed a similar unit at Leland Middle School, Miley said.

Board member Bud Thorsen asked if they could instead move a portable the school system already owns from another school.

Miley said their policy has been to sell off the units as they age.

“We are fortunate we found a whole fleet New Hanover County sold back (to Modular Technologies),” Miley said.

“The quality level of these is really very good. They (normally) have a really long lifespan.”

The school currently uses nine portables. Miley said there is space for portables next to the media center at the rear of the building. 

Board member John Thompson asked if the price for the portables included a concrete foundation and brick underpinning.

According to the written recommendation, everything but the cost of electricity is included in the price for the two portables.

Miley added the unit is a good product and the heat and air conditioning is not wall-mounted, so it is quiet.

Thorsen asked if the portables included restrooms.

Miley said they are included, but the school doesn’t intend to connect them to the water and sewer system.

“We hope not to connect them; it can be expensive,” Miley said.

Instead students can use facilities in the main building.

“It is not a problem for high school students. They are moving (classroom to classroom) all the time,” he said.

Miley added the county is updating its demographic study to determine how much more growth they could see in the school system and where it will occur.

“Only this year, we’ve seen growth in the north end (of Brunswick County). There’s been an influx of younger working people in that area. We need to come up with additional high school seating to deal with the bubble,” Miley said.

He said population growth is also affecting Leland Middle School and Northwest Middle School.

“Interest rates are low; people continue to move in every day,” board member Charles Miller said.

Chairman Shirley Babson said once the study is ready they should share it with county commissioners.

Thorsen asked if additional portables would reduce the number of teachers on carts from 11 to nine.

Miley said the number of teachers on carts would remain the same.

“There’s no easy way to expand the number of classrooms,” Miley said.

Miller added the addition of two modular units would bring the school to the maximum number of portables allowed through the school’s stormwater permit.

“We’ll look where to go (to ease capacity) from there. There is nowhere to go with that school. We are built out at the moment,” Miley said.

Thompson made a motion to approve the purchase of both portable units, which was approved by the board 5-0.


Brian Slattery is a staff writer for The Brunswick Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.