Olive Branch mayor rejects 10-year request for portable classrooms


The DeSoto County School District is asking for portable classrooms, but a local mayor is not in favor. A discussion about adding the portable units to the Desoto County Schools Career & Technology Center East Campus was tabled by Olive Branch Mayor Ken Adams.

The discussion was initially placed on the Thursday night agenda at the Board of Zoning Adjustments meeting, but is now on hold. The district put in a request to add trailers for a period of 10 years.

“Really our students deserve better than that,” Adams told FOX13. “I think with the robust school system we have, I think we can have a better option than portable classrooms.”

Adams also explained that safety was a concern. “It always goes back to things such as safety. They’re not as safe as a permanent building.”

FOX13 looked into how safe portable classrooms really are and whether they pose a risk. We learned that some of the most common problems include poorly functioning HVAC systems, chemical off-gassing from pressed wood and mold growth.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), poor indoor air quality in a portable unit is no different than a permanent classroom. However, the EPA states the pressed wood products used inside a portable classroom contain higher concentrations of formaldehyde.

“We do provide 35 million dollars a year to the school system,” Adams continued. “We certainly are entitled to classrooms that are not portable and a long-term plan for our school system.”

We wanted to find out what parents thought about using portable classrooms for their children. We found that opinions were mixed.

“To me, it really doesn’t matter what they are being taught in, as long as they’re being taught,” said Farrah Sides, mother of 5th grade DeSoto County student Myah Bell. We asked Bell if she’d be open to being taught inside trailers. “If it’s not a small trailer, then yea,” she responded.

Meanwhile, Gregory Bachus, father of a DeSoto County Schools 11th grader, said he’s opposed to the idea of portable units. “I don’t personally like the whole idea of a trailer, period,” he said. “I don’t want them to feel like that’s something they should be comfortable with.”

The DeSoto County School District released the following statement to FOX13:

“Due to support for vocational programs from the business community, parents and students, school officials have been looking at ways to expand vocational opportunities for students. The portable classroom at Career Tech East would have allowed the school district to start a new HVAC program to benefit the students at Center Hill High School, Lewisburg High School, and Olive Branch High School. With this recent decision, the expansion of these career technical opportunities will have to be put on hold.”