Arlington public schools to add 25 mobile classrooms

Washington High School added four mobile trailers this week.

“It’s just, you know, more kids than there are seats so what are they going to do?” asks Mary Smaragdis.

Smaragdis has three kids in Arlington public schools, one at Washington Lee, where student overflow means her freshman could soon be learning in a trailer.

“It’s not going to be the most pleasant of experiences going to a trailer in the middle of winter, but that’s what they’ve got to do,” she says.

Like most public schools in Arlington County, Washington Lee is hundreds of students overcapacity. This year, the county will add 25 trailers to local campuses.

“It’s a quick fix and a temporary fix,” says John Chadwick of Arlington County Public Schools.

Chadwick oversees the Arlington school facilities and says the trailers are a relatively cheap and easy way to get students into larger quarters quickly. Over the last six years, the school system has added roughly 1,000 students every year. By next fall, roughly 2,000 students will be learning in more than 100 mobile classrooms.

“The biggest issue with them is that we have very limited space in Arlington and so they’re taking up space we’d rather use for other things,” Chadwick says.

But Chadwick says despite losing space, there has been a minimal impact on education. That is echoed by parents like Jana McAndrew.

“I think as long as teachers have the materials that they need, it really doesn’t matter the environment, whether it’s in a brick building or a mobile classroom,” she says.

The county is also considering boundary changes at the high school level to ease overcrowding, but there are no definite plans in place yet.