General Steel Building Framing for School The American population is growing by one person every 15 seconds, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As the population continues to grow, and our infrastructure continues to age without repair or replacement, our living conditions gradually deteriorate. One of the most common places we see this effect is in our schools, where administration, faculty and most importantly, students, struggle to reach their potential because schools are increasingly overcrowded.

Overcrowded schools have very real effects on the safety of students as well as their academic progress. Overcrowding has led to drastic changes in how students are taught, including transferring them to portable classrooms among other crowd-clearing strategies. Many of these strategies are short-term fixes that only mask the problem without correcting it. But some administrators are recognizing the need to establish more permanent solutions, which is why steel is becoming the best option for solving the overcrowding problem. Here are some things to consider.

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Facts on Overcrowding

  • Enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools rose 22 percent between 1985 and 2005. (National Center for Education Statistics)
    Public secondary school enrollment declined 8 percent from 1985 to 1990, but then rose 31 percent from 1990 to 2005. (National Center for Education Statistics)
  • 1 of 3 California students attends an overcrowded school. (UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access)
  • About 14 percent of schools exceed their capacity by six to 25 percent, and eight percent exceed it by more than 25 percent. (FAIR)
  • More than one-third of schools use portable classrooms, and one-fifth hold classes in temporary instructional space (FAIR)
  • The size of the student body will almost double by 2100. (National Center for Education Statistics)

The Effects of Overcrowding

Steel School Gym BuildingHigher school enrollment means greater wear and tear on the school building itself. In a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, it was found that schools that were overcrowded were about twice as likely to have at least one building in “less than adequate condition”, when compared to schools that weren’t overcrowded. Issues with framing, floors and foundations, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and electric power were all more common in overcrowded schools as well.

Not only does overcrowding negatively affect the physical environment of the building, it also negatively affects the learning environment within the school’s classrooms. Higher class sizes mean teachers are unable to give the personalized education that many students need to progress. A 2009 study by the University of London concludes that overcrowding is at the very center of failed schools and teacher dissatisfaction.

How Are Schools Fighting Overcrowding?

Administrators are dealt a tough hand as budgets must be met and procedural hoops be jumped through before constructing new facilities. So many districts are merely attempting to plug holes while their ships take on more water. One strategy for fighting overcrowding is busing students to surrounding districts. This strategy puts a tremendous strain on students, who are less likely to participate in school activities, and parents, who are less involved with their child’s education because of the added distance.

The most common strategy for fighting overcrowding is the use of temporary portable classrooms. A portable classroom presents several problems when compared to a permanent structure. They deteriorate at a faster rate, are less durable and have worse ventilation systems that can lead to health hazards for students and teachers. Technically, portable classrooms increase a school’s capacity. But it’s been found that in many cases, class sizes remain inflated even with the installation of portable classrooms.

Metal School BuildingWhy Steel Buildings are the Best Solution

Many administrators are finding that constructing steel buildings is the most efficient strategy for tackling overcrowding issues. School districts are facing tighter budget constraints each year, and steel buildings offer schools a cost-effective solution that doesn’t force them to also sacrifice quality. High quality steel buildings are affordable, and you can even lock in the cost of your structure up to 90 days with a small deposit.

Metal School Buildings vs. The Portable Classroom

After a just a few minutes of searching the internet you can easily find a portable classroom for sale near you. The question is, are these portable structures really the answer when it comes to combatting school overcrowding or are they just an acceptable solution?

Portable Classroom

Portable Classroom

Steel School Building

Portable Classrooms vs. Steel Buildings

Comparing Metal Building Prices and Portable Classroom Prices

It’s immediately clear that a finished steel school building is more visually pleasing than its portable counterpart, but we understand for most school districts the choice really boils down to price.

Building TypeBuilding SizePrice Per Square FootBase Building Price
Portable24’x60’$20 per sqft$28,800
Rigid Frame24’x60’$8-$12 per sqft$11,520-$17,280*

*Base building package only, does not include any components or interior finish. Local codes and loads may also change the pricing.

Considering Your Options

Overcrowded schools suffer the greatest wear and tear, and portable classrooms, especially, are not equipped to handle the physical demands of a bloated school enrollment. Steel is the leading framing material for buildings and infrastructure in North America because of its durability. Steel’s high strength-to-weight ratio means it’s able to withstand the most extreme natural elements while also limiting time spent on maintenance. Overcrowding is a serious issue that should be addressed with serious solutions, and steel buildings provide a sustainable path to improving the educational environment for our country’s students.

Custom Designing a Steel School Solution

Steel buildings are versatile structures that can be customized to meet the specific needs of any district. General Steel offers a team of experts to help administrators custom design their school’s new facility. As school enrollment inevitably grows, steel buildings have the advantage of being easily modified and expandable.

Example General Steel School Designs

Below are a few educational metal school buildings our team has designed. Our prefab metal buildings are designed according to budget constraints and can be easily expanded upon easily in the future when more funds become available.

  • 3D Rendering of Metal School Building
  • Playground Design for Steel Building
  • Steel School with Drive Thru
  • Metal School Building Built into Hill
  • Steel School Building Design
  • Aerial View of School Design

Need Help? We’re Listening!

Our Project Consultants can be reached by calling 1-800-745-2685 or message us @gensteel on Twitter. Regardless of where you are in the process of building, our team will recommend a solution to get your school project headed in the right direction.


How Steel Classrooms Triumph Portable Classrooms
Article Name
How Steel Classrooms Triumph Portable Classrooms
With many schools exceeding their capacity, learn why steel buildings have become the durable, sustainable solution versus standard portable classrooms.
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General Steel
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