Editorial

Stroman Middle School and its students are hanging in the balance of the November election, but voters still lack the necessary information to weigh in.

In early August, just days before the start of the 2021 school year, about 800 Stroman students and their parents learned dangerous levels of mold had been discovered in their school. The school was quickly shuttered.

Back in August many of the most important questions remained unanswered. What was the extent and severity of the mold growth? Most importantly, how might it be treated and at what cost?

To answer those questions, we need a complete mold remediation report, which officials say is in the works. And we needed the report yesterday.

Days after the presence of mold was revealed, school board members approved a November ballot item asking voters to consider building a new campus for $73.7 million.

Completely rebuilding the about 54-year-old STEM campus may be the right decision in this case. Or it might not be. The point is, at this time without a remediation report, no one really knows.

Considering the scope and importance of the decision, the Nov. 2 election isn’t so far off. That’s not even considering that early voting is right around the corner and set to begin on Oct. 18.

That’s troubling considering the high stakes that come with any decision for the school.

Victoria’s four middle schools are already just about at capacity, so there’s just not any extra room in the district to send Stroman’s students. Right now, the students are attending classes at Liberty Academy, whose students have been displaced to the district’s conference center. Victoria College has graciously accepted some students onto their facilities to alleviate the space problem.

Those are temporary solutions, and we can’t let those students hang in limbo, but we also shouldn’t rush to a decision.

Decisions as momentous as the bond election and mold remediation should not be taken lightly. The decision to rebuild Stroman or simply remediate its mold are heavy ones, and millions and millions of dollars are up in the air.

Whatever outcome we decide for the school will have far reaching implications that will directly affect Stroman and district students for years to come.

Building a new school or patching up the one we have will affect the district’s budgets and options far into the future.

Decisions like those should not be rushed. They should mulled and meditated over. They should be contemplated and considered.

As a community, we need to talk about the decision. We need to explore the options and their potential effects.

Ideally, we need to hold community forums. We need to debate the decision, whether that’s on the stage of a town hall meeting or our own home dining rooms with our loved ones.

We need to hear the best arguments on both sides.

But right now, we can’t even begin to get started with that.

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This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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