Castlewood begins to install mobile classroom units

A crew from Houston began to set the seven units that have arrived on Wednesday.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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CASTLEWOOD, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - After a tornado from the derecho storm on May 12th damaged a large portion of the Castlewood school, they had to bring in a special delivery to make up for the lost space.

The school district ordered ten mobile classroom units from Texas to utilize while the school is being repaired. Some of the school building is usable, but kindergarten through fourth grade is currently attending class in two local churches.

While Superintendent Peter Books was hoping the classroom units would be here by the first day of classes in August, he’s just happy the extra space has finally arrived.

“The ten module units make up about 9,000 square feet, and that includes eight classrooms. They all have their own bathrooms and their own closet. And then, there are four offices. We’re really excited to be able to get everything together and then be able to move in,” said Books.

The school district purchased property north of the school to place to classroom units on and build a new playground. Concrete for the units was laid last week, and seven of the units have arrived so far. The other three are expected to make it to Castlewood by Monday. A crew from Houston began to set the seven units that have arrived on Wednesday.

While the units will provide extra classroom and office space, key areas like the band room, library, and locker rooms are still missing from the school. School officials have had to be innovative to accommodate.

”We’re still working out details, like when volleyball teams come, they have to change in classrooms and that sort of thing because we don’t have locker rooms right now. We’re just being creative and making it work,” said Books.

Books says his staff has been resilient with all the shuffling.

“We’ve had to move teachers around, whether it’s in our building or in the churches. And then, of course, in a month we’ll have to move them again. They’ve been very flexible in working us. I mean, we moved our nurse into the conference room and then she turned that into her office for now and then she’ll move into the module unit in a few weeks,” said Books.

Sandra Everson, the 2nd grade teacher at Castlewood, says she doesn’t mind.

“I’m looking forward to the mobile unit. We were just talking the other day that once we get in the routine here, we’re going to be moving to the mobile units. I mean, you just roll with the punches. Everybody is having a positive attitude. The kids are excited. They see them sitting in the street, so there’s a lot of talk of, ‘Oh, we’re ready to move into the mobile classrooms,’” said Everson.

Moving into the classroom units will bring back some normalcy for the teachers and students currently working from churches.

”For me as a teacher, the biggest thing will probably be access to a copying machine, access to go to the office for things. I haven’t seen the kindergarten or first grade teachers, other than meetings, so just getting together again to collaborate,” said Everson.

School officials expect that they’ll have to utilize the classroom units for at least two years. They plan to begin rebuilding and expanding the school in the spring of 2023.

The goal, for now, is to get students and faculty moved into the classroom units by mid-October.