The new portables are on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus
The new portables are on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus

Over the summer, Washington Elementary School in Berkeley got a new set of portable classrooms. The new classrooms replaced a group of portables which dated back to the 1960s, even though they were installed originally as a temporary measure. The new ones come from Berkeley High School. They were removed from there in order to complete the high school’s $46 million new construction project.

The decision to replace very old portables with seven less-old portables on Washington’s annex campus on McKinley St., across from the school’s main campus, was not popular with many Washington parents who say an underlying problem not being addressed by the district is overcrowding at the elementary school.

The whole demolition and upgrade project was documented by last year’s Washington PTA President David Fisher and fellow Washington parent and professional photographer Nathan Phillips. The result is the mesmerizing time-lapse video, below.

“I thought it would be a fun way to close this chapter of what has been a challenging issue..,” said Fisher this week. “We were… very fortunate to find a kind, accommodating, and interested neighbor who allowed us to set up in her apartment all summer, stopping in weekly to swap out memory cards from the camera.”

YouTube video

Asked about the work that went into producing the four-minute long video, Fisher said: “We shot more than 80,000 images round-the-clock over about three months, and used some creative techniques to eliminate the photos that weren’t useful (nighttime, weekends, etc). We combined the images together into a movie that was almost 30 minutes long. We did some more editing to shorten the video — speeding up or eliminating some of the less interesting parts, and slowing down others so you can see some of the action. At the end we transitioned into real-time video to bring it all back to a human pace.”

And what does Fisher think of the new portables?

“The landscaping, new fence, and upgraded bathrooms are an improvement. The classrooms have direct communication to the office now, as well as wi-fi. There are fewer parking spaces in the realigned lot, which is hard on the staff. But many of the security concerns… have been addressed as much as possible. They are an improvement to be sure, but we all wish they weren’t needed at all.”

School Board considers options for tackling student surge (11.13.14)
Op-ed: School district overcrowding an opportunity that begins as a problem (10.14.14)
Added kindergarteners a result of squeeze from TK classes (09.05.14)
Berkeley High expands with opening of new building (03.19.14)
Portable classroom plan at Berkeley schools delayed (06.27.13)

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter

"*" indicates required fields

See an error that needs correcting? Have a tip, question or suggestion? Drop us a line.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...