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End of the road for portable classrooms

When the portable classrooms came to Rosemount High School in the late 1980s, they were a solution to a problem. Eagan High School hadn't yet opened, and RHS was filled to overflowing with students. The portables were a necessity, and at one point they stretched in two rows from the building out to 142nd Street.

Now, more than 20 years later, the last of them is gone. It was dismantled Saturday morning while crowds lined up in the parking lot for Rosemount's Leprechaun Days parade.

At RHS, that is both good news and bad news.

Principal John Wollersheim knew the school's portables had a limited lifespan. When voters approved a building bond in June of 2004 - providing money to add a north wing at RHS, among other projects - the district promised to get rid of all portable classrooms. The thought, Wollersheim said, was that permanent space is better than portable space. For one thing, having classroom space that's not attached to the school building causes concerns about security that are heightened as schools try to more closely monitor who comes into their buildings.

The school's one remaining portable was also starting to show its age.

"It was meant to be a temporary building, not a permanent building," Wollersheim said. "If we were going to keep it for another 20 years it would have needed major money pumped into it. In some respects, it's very good it's not there.

"You need to either pump more money into them or take them down, and it was time to take this one down."

But the portable's absence is also going to cause some problems at RHS. When the district started making plans to get rid of its portables RHS asked to be last on the list because the buildings still get a lot of use.

The portable is a secondary studio when dance teacher Christina Morris draws too many students to fit in her regular studio. It's used by the school's music programs, and during theater productions. The floor space in the portable is roughly the same size as the stage in the school's performing arts center, so actors could mark it off and have two groups of students rehearsing at once.

The portable was also a quiet place to conduct tests. Wollersheim said assistant principal Kim Budde did a lot of AP testing in the portable.

"It's a lot quieter than doing it in the school where there might be bells ringing," Wollersheim said.

RHS teachers and administrators have had time to prepare for the portable's removal, but Wollersheim said it's still not clear exactly how it will replace the space it is losing. Everyone affected by the demolition is currently working in a plan, he said.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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