Cross Keys High School has over 1500 students in a school that was made to house just over 1100. Currently to ameliorate the overcrowding, our school has trailers and modular buildings — something many schools in Metro Atlanta do to temporarily relieve overcrowding.

However, the trailers at Cross Keys may not have been done correctly per the initial agreement with the county’s vendors.

Whenever the county (or other similar entity) is about to make a large purchase or enter into a contract, they list the job requirements or the necessary products that they need. They make this public so that companies and contractors are alerted that there is a potential job opportunity, and these potential vendors can make bids for the job, explaining how much they would charge and how they would accomplish the job and/or meet the county’s need. This process is called a Invitation to Bid (or ITB).

During the May 2014 ITB process for trailers and modular buildings, DeKalb County Schools required that all trailers be installed with walkways.

Here is an excerpt from the Specifications for Relocation of Portable Classrooms for the vendors who were contracted beginning Spring/Summer 2014:

“I. Make sure when portable is set it is less than 60 inches off the ground. J. Building landings and steps. K. Building ramps (optional). L. Add skirting (optional). M. Building walkways and pads.”

[Regarding] Walkways and Pads 1. On dirt or grass surfaces leading to portable classroom install layer of slate approximately two inches thick and four feet wide up to steps or ramp. Both doors will get a 4’x4’ pad of slate. 2. The unit cost must be per classroom. 3. Each classroom will have two (2) walkways and two (2) pads.

If you view the video I recently posted on YouTube, you will notice that there is no walkway to the single-wide trailers. Students have to walk through mud and rain to get to class. They then have to sit in wet socks and shoes in cold trailers while trying to learn Shakespeare or Social Studies – something kids seem to find difficult to do even with dry, warm feet.

In addition to students, some teachers who have physical disabilities find it extremely difficult — if not downright impossible – to walk to their classes in the trailers due to the uneven ground, mud, and water.

Also, given the current situation with at least two (perhaps more in the other schools) trailers needing repairs, it is helpful to note that the vendors were contracted to perform routine maintenance on all trailers, not just ones being installed for the first time on DCSS property.

I have attached below a copy of the district’s specification for routine maintenance per the ITB from Spring/Summer 2014.

It is expected that all Portable Classroom Units will be inspected and/or worked at least once every thirty (30) days based upon the following Scope of Work:

Thirty (30) Day Items:

-Air Conditioner Preventive Maintenance: filter change (filter included), temperature readings for A/C or Heat as seasons require. Inspection and replacement of Capacitors and Contactors, and Coil Cleaning (as needed). Replacement of parts must be approved by DCSD prior to installation.

-Electrical Preventive Maintenance: Testing for proper function of all receptacles, light switches, internal, and external lighting; Visual Inspection of breaker boxes. Replace breakers (as needed). Replacement of parts must be approved by DCSD prior to installation.

-Moisture Intrusion Preventive Maintenance: Moisture testing to be conducted within units to detect possible moisture intrusion at various locations within the classroom units (locations TBD).

-Ingress and Egress Preventive Maintenance: Testing of all door and window functionality, weather resistance, and mini-blind functionality.

Ninety (90) Day Items:

-Exterior Preventive Maintenance: Roof Inspection.

One Hundred Eighty (180) Day Items:

-Exterior Preventive Maintenance

Under the county’s new terms (as of April 2015), vendors must provide the following (excerpt):

  1. The separate contract will also include sidewalks, walkway covers, final site grading, installation of landscaping and irrigation… (Did we award this separate contract to the same vendors providing the trailers — or was it a different vendor entirely? Either way, it clearly hasn’t been accomplished at CK.)
  2. All modular units offered shall be new, manufacturer’s current or latest model unit, at the time the Purchase Order is issued.

While I understand that sometimes the actual terms of the contract may be different than the Request for Proposal or Invitation to Bid, I could not locate contracts that stated any differently. Therefore, I am led to believe that the way that we have situated our trailers may not meet the standard that the county has set (which seems like a pretty reasonable standard).

My request from the county is very simple: please provide our students walkways (or gravel) to their trailers and please maintain the trailers properly. Hold the vendors accountable for their work.

My fellow teacher has now been displaced from his trailer since the first week of October. You can read more about the dilapidated condition of his trailer in this previous article I wrote.

It is now a week before Thanksgiving break and the repairs still have not been completed. I’m definitely not a skilled laborer or construction engineer, but I have to wonder if it really takes a month and a half of full-time work to repair a trailer (or decide the damage is too extensive and simply replace the old trailer). I also wonder if full-time work is actually occurring, since any time that I have been out to the trailers, I have never seen anyone working – no exaggeration.

Again, my request is simple: if we must house students in trailers, then please provide the teachers with good working conditions. I know that my fellow teachers, parents, students, and administrators agree that the students deserve to have an environment that is conducive to learning. I know that DCSS included the above-stated requirements for each trailer, implying that they, too, know the importance of a comfortable experience in a portable classroom.

Let’s make it happen so that our kids can learn — without additional impediments. I know you can do it, DeKalb.