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How I Handled...

Making New Space for an
Overcrowded School


Overcrowding is a problem in many schools. Solving the problem requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Not every community would be able to solve the problem in the way this community did -- but you never know!

The Problem:

According to state law, our schools are required to provide services for special students whose IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) call for occupational therapy (OT) or physical therapy (PT). The problem we faced was finding the space in which to offer those therapies. We are a school built for 500 students and occupied by 980 students. All our portable classrooms are filled and every available space on campus is used. The cafeteria was a possibility, but it only would be available for a small part of each day; we begin serving lunch at 10:10 a.m. and end at 1:30 p.m. The OT/PT teachers also needed space for storing the equipment they use with students.

The Solution:

Our community was searching for a new location for an historic building -- a small, wood-frame structure, more than a century old. Our school offered the perfect setting for the building; and the building provided us with the opportunity to have an "historic lab" right on campus. We suggested moving the building to our campus and then renovating it to accommodate a resource room for parents. We also thought the building would provide an ideal space for OT/PT classes and equipment.

The Reflection:

Considering our large number of students and lack of extra space, this historic building has been a lifesaver. The OT/PT teachers are delighted to have a place they can call "home." In addition, the building offers a great place for parents to congregate and to check out materials from our parent resource library. The old building long has been a landmark in the community; now, it's a landmark for our school as well.

About the How I Handled... Team of Principal Problem Solvers
The How I Handled... series is intended to be practical resource for all principals and principals-to-be. Each week, members of Education World's How I Handled team share how they solved actual problems relating to school leadership, parent involvement, professional development, and a host of other "principal" responsibilities. Six principals comprise our How I Handled team; two of them are elementary school principals, two work at the middle level, and two are high school principals. Team members remain anonymous; in that way, they can share freely the range of issues/problems they are called on to solve each day.