In early November, voters in Victoria rescinded a mandatory proposal to build a new campus for Stroman Middle School.
Supporters of the link cited a mold infestation, which has displaced students, and aging campus infrastructure as reasons to build a new school.
But many opponents said the $ 83.9 million construction cost was too high and wanted the district to restore the school by repairing it instead.
It should be mentioned that only 16.2% of registered voters voted, so it is impossible to say if the decision represents the wishes of the entire community. But the election is over, and voters have spoken. We need to move forward and do what is best for the students at Stroman Middle School.
But in order to do that, we first need to know more about the options available.
At a school board meeting in early December, district officials presented four potential avenues for the school. First, the school could be repaired and restored, allowing students to return eventually. The other three options would distribute students across the remaining college campuses by dezoning, reorganizing, or restructuring them.
By default, repairing and restoring Stroman would appear to be the # 1 choice for the majority of voters. Their initial decision to vote against building a new Stroman could be seen as tacit approval of its repair.
But, it is a major decision with potentially long-term implications for the district’s budgetary and financial future.
Thus, voters will need to know the exact details of all options. Among these are first and foremost the costs to fix mold in the school and make it functional again.
This information is vital and voters will need to be informed. They should also be invited to participate in the decision-making process, which they have done through workshops, meetings and town halls.
Community buy-in is essential and voters need to know that their school district listens to them and respects their wishes.
But voters themselves must also fulfill their end of the bargain.
They must stand for election is as important as the previous bond election.
And they must seriously weigh the costs and benefits of the next four decisions by learning about Stroman’s situation and attending workshops and meetings organized by the district.
It’s not just about property taxes. The options to be considered will have a direct effect on the studies of students in Victoria for years to come.
Above all, we must remember that the education of our students is the priority.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate Editorial Board.