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Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 11:56 am

With classrooms scarce, teachers get carts

Elaine R. Kuhn, Springfield High School Spanish teacher and former teacher on a cart, displays a cart.
Students aren’t the only ones who need to worry about getting to class on time this year. Traveling teachers, known as “teachers on a cart,” will also be shuffling through the crowded hallways when school begins.

Last year at Springfield High School there were approximately 14 teachers on a cart. Without their own designated classroom, they had to load and unload their teaching materials, textbooks and a projector onto a cart, moving from available room to room throughout the day. Due to a growing district population and a limited number of classrooms, there will be the same number of Springfield High School teachers on a cart this year.

Mike Taylor, Springfield High School science teacher and head football coach, says being a teacher on a cart is a “nightmare for anybody,” and it cheats students and teachers out of valuable class time, especially when the passing period between classes is a mere five minutes.

“You either stop class five minutes early and cheat the kids there or you show up five minutes late for your next class,” Taylor says.

If a student has a question, or if there is a disciplinary matter that needs to be addressed after class, that takes away even more time, he says.

Maddie Funderburg, a Springfield High School senior, says although she hasn’t felt crowded in the classroom, the congestion in the hallways is stressful for students, especially when faculty are trying to get to class at the same time.

“When someone is a teacher, it’s just assumed they’ll have their own classroom,” Funderburg says.

Students also struggle to locate traveling teachers after class to ask questions about assignments. The teachers can begin their day teaching at one end of the school and end their day at another end, she says.

In an effort to alleviate the stress on teachers and students, Springfield High School principal Mike Grossen says he plans to keep traveling teachers in their designated wing as much as possible, so if a teacher teaches science, he or she would only move among classrooms within the science wing.

Grossen says the school district is aware of the space constraints facing Springfield High School and has implemented the transfer policy, which he says is being followed appropriately, but the referendum to approve new buildings was voted down.

Pete Sherman, director of communications at Springfield school district 186, says the district doesn’t keep record of the number of teachers on a cart, so records and solutions are left to the schools. Southeast High School has from three to six teachers on a cart, and Lanphier High School has none.

Springfield High School will have two new classrooms this year because the school’s old convenience store, which was only being used for one hour during the day, has been turned into two classrooms, Grossen says.

“We’re going to do the best we can with what we have,” he says.

These additional classrooms will still not be enough to reduce the number of teachers on a cart, and he says he estimates the number of these traveling teachers to remain at approximately 14.

Lack of space is not the only contributing factor, he says. Curriculum changes like the new speech and communication graduation requirements, which have required the school to add two English and speech teachers, and the change from a six-period to a seven-period class schedule, have created a need for more faculty.

The graduation requirements for science classes also changed from two courses to three courses, which required more classrooms, Taylor says.

“When you have more credits, you need more classes,” Grossen says. “Therefore you’re going to need more teachers. It’s just the nature of the business.”

A classroom near the science wing will also be added for science teachers. Taylor will have his own classroom this year, but he says one of the science teachers might still be on a cart from time to time.

“Right now in our present building situation, there’s just no way around it and that’s too bad,” Taylor says.  
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