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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Relocation problems persist
Crammed spaces and constant adaptation create difficulties for Lawrence school teachers and students
Jeffrey Bessen/Herald
The Number Five School’s library is being used as a fifth-grade classroom.

Crowded conditions and new rules are part of the Lawrence School District’s three-week-old relocation plan, under which high school students were moved to the middle school, sixth-graders to the Number Two School and fifth-graders to the Number Five School. The plan will be in effect for at least five more weeks, district officials say, as the repairs of Hurricane Sandy-related damage continue at Lawrence High School.

To create a more comfortable educational environment, the district converted 10 middle-school offices to classrooms, has tried to match class sizes with the appropriate classroom spaces and brought desks and equipment over from the high school, but there are faculty and departments that lack the space they had previously. There are 975 high school students now at the middle school, and 400 of the middle school’s 875 students were sent to elementary schools.

The high school was shut down on Jan. 15 after corroded wiring was discovered during a visual inspection of the building’s electrical system, and the district’s consulting engineers recommended closing the building for repairs.

Science teacher Rebecca Isseroff, who is also the district’s coordinator for science competitions, is working in a storage room instead of a classroom. “It’s difficult,” Isseroff said as she worked on a laptop computer, preparing submissions for a number of science competitions. “I have to carry everything from my office to home to here.”

Becoming accustomed to an unfamiliar school is a challenge for some students. “I haven’t really adjusted to the middle school,” said senior Sergio Cacares. “I hate the substitute rule and the no-cell-phone [rule] on the third floor.”

At the high school, sophomores, juniors and seniors had a free period if their regular teacher was absent, and seniors were allowed to leave campus during that time. At the middle school, there are no free periods because substitute teachers are assigned to all classes when a regular teacher is out. Also, high school students can use their cell phones only on the second floor of the middle school.

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