Heinz the Builder: Yes, He Can!

While on campus, many students have noticed a wire fence built near the bike area. There’s been speculation that it’s being used as a way to get students to stop walking on the grass or as security measures. But in actuality, it’s in preparation for the new portables.

With nearly 4 times the national average, Apopka High School has around 3,395 students, which is only expected to grow. The Blue & White got the opportunity to interview Mr. Heinz about some of the most asked questions on the portables.

How were the locations of the portables chosen?

That’s a walk with myself and facility experts from OCPS. We look at a couple of things. First off safety, making sure they’re put there in a safe manner. Second, we look at instructional time, how much we gained or lost, and where the options are. The options we had in this particular case were where they were going, and the other option was the north campus and how the portables recently got removed. The old portables on the north campus, to me, are too far away. Kids already get 2 extra minutes when coming from north campus. If we put the portables over there, they would probably need 4 to 5 more minutes. So now you’re talking 5 minutes of instruction time that they’re losing.

Will new teachers be going into the portables or will the current ones be out there? 

That decision has not been made yet. How we will utilize the portables, adding teachers…We’re in the process now of collecting enrollment and everything for next year. We haven’t created the master schedule yet. That is yet to be determined. [As a student you fill out your class request form] we take that and we determine how many sections of each class we need. Sometimes it fluctuates. I know for a fact there’s some classes that we’re going to need more sections of next year than we had this year. Until we have that finalized after spring break, we won’t know that answer.

Will the layout of the portables be similar or different to the other classrooms?

They’ll be very similar. They’re concrete portables, they’re rectangular rooms, so they’ll have smart boards, teacher desk, student desks. Basically the same as the classrooms. The [only] difference is most classrooms have a cupboard, the portables I believe won’t have cabinetry in them.

Are there going to be any other renovations to the school?

Yes, there are quite a few renovations coming up. We are waiting for some final details before I release anything. We’re on what’s called a capital renewal list, that’s why we replaced all the smart boards this year. There are a couple of buildings in the summer that’ll get new roofs. Then we’ll look at other things like the HVAC system and stuff like that. Those are in the works.

Do you believe the location of the portables will pose a security concern?

No, because they’re all inside the fenced area. I don’t see it as a security concern. One bonus is that the new portables that are going on the south side of 1600 are visible from the guard booth, so the gate guard will have a visual on those printables pretty much all the time. The possibility of putting a dean or someone that’s in office in one of the other portables by the tennis court would help with that supervision, so I don’t see them as being a security issue.

Are there any alternatives to portables?

You could always rotate teachers. A teacher would use another teacher’s classroom during their planning period but that’s not a very good environment. I don’t believe that option is really viable and honestly enrollment is enough, we’re going to need all 15 portables the first year so we’re just kind of planning ahead. We’re going to utilize every classroom we have and then the portables.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

There will be 15 new portables, there’s going to be 7 portables in between the outdoor basketball court and the gymnasium and then an additional 8 portables down the south side of the 1600.

I think people see portables as “Oh my gosh, that’s going to add so many more students,” but we are also going to utilize the portables for different things that would be beneficial. We could use them for interventionists that do pull-outs for kids because we’re out of office space but not necessarily out of classroom space. When we see portables, we think “Oh, we’re so overcrowded.” I don’t think that’s the case here. I think it’s just another resource for us to use and not necessarily just for overcrowding. Yes, there’s going to be 1 or 2 classes, but the truth is I still have 2 empty classrooms on our campus this year that we could utilize as classes. I think the portables are a good resource for us for many different things, and that will be beneficial. For example, PE does not have a classroom, they have the gym. So what if they wanted to teach a lesson about the rules of basketball and wanted to go into a classroom and do that well these portables might be available for them to now have options instead of cramming everyone in the gym on a rainy day some could go into the portables and do a classroom lesson. I think there’s a lot of benefits to having the extra space, and JROTC was utilizing the area south of the 1600 but we will find them a space to work on.

It’s communication that goes on back and forth, it’s an ongoing decision [between the board and us]. We go back and forth and talk about why and what we could use them for. So I’d say it’s a mutual decision.