Lawrence High’s mobile unit classrooms unavailable because of motor malfunction

photo by: Dylan Lysen

Mobile classroom units sit on the northwest side of Lawrence High School's campus on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019.

When the school year started, some classes at Lawrence High School were held in mobile units on campus while construction continued on permanent classrooms.

Now those mobile units are temporarily unavailable, and classes have moved into the school’s main building.

Classes of five teachers using the mobile units on the northwest portion of campus have temporarily moved into the school’s library, a small “black box” theater and spare classrooms, Lawrence school district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said. The school does not currently have a timeline for when the classes can move back to the mobile units, which the school is using for the duration of a 27-month renovation project of campus, Boyle said.

The move was needed because of a malfunction of a motor used by the mobile units, Boyle said. Tuesday night, the motor for the air conditioning system for the classrooms began to produce smoke, which led to the school calling the fire department.

“There was no fire so no water was used, but an electrical smell lingers in those classrooms today so we’re moving inside,” Principal Cynthia Johnson said Wednesday in an email to parents about the issue.

Temporary classrooms were needed because construction delays over the summer pushed back the opening of 36 classrooms in the main building. Those 36 classrooms opened several weeks into the school year, but some of the 13 temporary classrooms — eight in mobile units and five in the “Butler Building” that sits next to the football stadium — are still in use.

Construction delays caused by the discovery of additional asbestos and issues from severe weather, including electrical complications associated with the May tornado, pushed back the start of both high schools six days, from Aug. 14 and 15 to Aug. 20 and 21.

To make up for the delay, the high schools have added an extra five minutes to school days this year. School days begin at 8 a.m. instead of 8:05 a.m., with a 7 a.m. zero hour, which is an extra morning class period for certain programs. The high schools continue to dismiss at 3:10 p.m.

The school district expects to see construction at LHS until 2021 as part of a $46.2 million project to renovate the building. The funding for the project is provided by a $87 million bond issue approved by local voters in 2017.

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