The Pros and Cons of Portable Classrooms: Is it the Right Choice for Your School?

Is a portable classroom right for your school or church space need?
Matt Banes
Written by Matt Banes

Is a Portable Classroom the right choice for your school or place of worship?

As schools continue to expand and populations grow, many institutions are turning to Portable Classrooms to provide additional space for their students. These cost-effective and practical solutions offer a range of benefits, including flexibility, easy installation, and the ability to accommodate temporary needs. However, like any solution, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. From concerns about safety and security to issues with climate control and maintenance, Portable Classrooms may not be the right choice for every school.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of Portable Classrooms and provide insights to help you determine if it’s the right choice for your institution. Whether you’re a school administrator looking to expand your campus, or a concerned parent wondering about the impact of Portable Classrooms on your child’s education, this article will provide valuable information to help guide your decision.

Advantages of Portable Classrooms

Portable Classrooms have become a popular solution for schools that need to accommodate a growing student population or require additional space for specific programs or activities. Some of the advantages of Portable Classrooms include:

1. Cost-effective
Portable classrooms are generally more cost effective than traditional classrooms. They are less expensive to build and can be installed quickly and easily, which means that schools can save money on construction costs and avoid the lengthy approval process that is often required for permanent buildings.

2. Flexibility
Portable classrooms offer a great deal of flexibility. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as classrooms, administrative offices, locker and shower rooms, and storage areas. They can also be easily moved from one location to another, which makes them ideal for schools that need to accommodate changing needs.

Here are some common uses for Portable Classrooms and Modular Buildings on school facility sites:

Science / Laboratory Classroom
Study Area
Library Space
After School / Outreach Space
Administrative Office Space
Staff Break and Lunch Room

3. Easy installation
Portable classrooms are designed to be easy to install. They can be delivered to the school site and set up quickly and efficiently, which means that schools can have additional space available in a matter of weeks, rather than months. For long-term use, portables can be installed using permanent foundation systems and concrete handicap access ramp systems. Short-term uses consist of approved temporary foundation systems with modular handicap ramp systems.

Learn more about Site Selection, Delivery, and Installation

A portable classroom installed to handle over-enrollment at a public school.
Portable classrooms can be installed nearly anywhere on campus.

4. Accommodates temporary needs
Portable classrooms are ideal for schools that need additional space for a short period. They can be rented/leased, or financed, which means that schools can avoid the expense of building a permanent structure that may not be needed in the long term.

5. Longevity and Ease of Maintenance
If you properly maintain a Portable Classroom it will serve the needs of your facility for decades. This creates a long-term facility solution that can be moved from campus to campus within your district or from one location to another on the same site.

For more details about the lifespan of a Portable Classroom read How Long Do Modular Buildings and Portable Classrooms Last?

Disadvantages of Portable Classrooms

While Portable Classrooms offer many advantages, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. These include:

1. Safety and Security Concerns
Portable Classrooms are often seen as less secure than traditional classrooms. They are more vulnerable to break-ins and vandalism, and may not have the same level of security features as permanent buildings. Schools may need to invest in additional security features, such as window and door guards, cameras, or alarms, to ensure the safety of their students and staff. There are also concerns about the safety of students and staff in the event of severe weather, such as hurricanes or tornadoes.

2. Climate Control Issues
Portable Classrooms can be difficult to heat and cool, especially in extreme weather conditions. They may not have the same level of insulation as permanent buildings, which can lead to higher heating and cooling costs for schools.

3. Maintenance Challenges
Portable Classrooms require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition. This can include cleaning, painting, and repairs to the exterior and interior of the building. Schools may need to invest in additional staff or contractors to ensure that the Portable Classrooms are properly maintained.

Environmental Impact of Portable Classrooms

Portable Classrooms have a smaller environmental footprint than traditional classrooms. They require less energy to heat and cool, which means that they can help schools reduce their energy consumption and lower their carbon footprint. However, there are concerns about the environmental impact of the materials used to build Portable Classrooms. Many Portable Classrooms are made of materials that are not environmentally friendly, such as vinyl and PVC.

Effect on Student Learning and Academic Performance

There is some evidence to suggest that Portable Classrooms may hurt student learning and academic performance. According to a study by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, students who attend school in Portable Classrooms are more likely to experience distractions, such as noise and temperature fluctuations, which can interfere with their ability to learn. Portable Classrooms may also be less conducive to group work and collaboration, which can impact student engagement and performance.

Are Portable Classrooms better than traditional classrooms?

Alternative Solutions to Portable Classrooms

While Portable Classrooms are a popular solution for schools that need additional space, there are alternative solutions to consider. These include:

1. Modular buildings
Modular buildings are similar to Portable Classrooms but are designed to be more permanent. They can be installed quickly and easily, but offer greater durability and flexibility than Portable Classrooms.

2. Renovations and expansions
Schools can also consider renovating and expanding their existing buildings to create additional space. This can be a more expensive option but may offer greater long-term benefits for schools.

3. Online learning
Online learning is becoming an increasingly popular option for schools that need to provide additional space for their students. This can be a cost-effective and flexible solution, but may not be suitable for all students.

Conclusion: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Your School’s Unique Situation.

In conclusion, Portable Classrooms offer a range of benefits for schools that need additional space. However, there are also potential drawbacks to consider, such as safety and security concerns, climate control issues, and maintenance challenges. Schools should weigh the pros and cons of Portable Classrooms carefully, and consider alternative solutions where appropriate. By taking the time to evaluate their needs and options, schools can make an informed decision about whether Portable Classrooms are the right choice for their institution.

About the author

Matt Banes

Matt Banes

Call me directly and I will help you make the smartest decisions before you buy, rent or sell a modular building or portable classroom anywhere in the United States. (800) 806-7485.
Since 1988, I have helped thousands of businesses, public and private schools, and places of worship with decisions concerning planning, permitting, floor plan design and financing of temporary and permanent modular spaces. So, why wait? Call me directly at the Modular Building Help Line today!