A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria ISD

Closing thoughts: Stroman Update

A word from superintendent Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

On Tuesday, January 18, the Board of Trustees reconvened for a workshop to discuss plans for Stroman students. We had a workshop in December and worked through many different options. We narrowed the list to just a few that seemed potentially viable. One would be to move the Middle School back to the Stroman Campus, and one would be to leave the Middle School at the Liberty Campus but make the building more functional as a Middle School. The administration, architects, engineers, local contractors and resident experts have been working with the District over Christmas break, New Year, and early January to come up with cost estimates and reasonable timeline expectations for these options.

It was quickly determined that a simple “upgrade” of the Stroman mechanical systems, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) is not an option. Our infrastructure is far too antiquated for that. The only option is a complete replacement of these systems to bring the four-story building back online. Some of our work over the past four weeks has found us trying to nail down scope and costs on all this work and estimates of time to order, receive, and install parts. It is vital for our community to understand that mold infestation is only happening in the four-story building. All other buildings remain mold-free and safe.

As we looked at the Liberty Campus, we knew that if this campus was to become fully functional as a Middle School, we needed to create both band and choir rooms (they do not have these currently), a library (they don’t have this currently), a computer lab (they don’t have this currently), and more readily available classroom space (some of our teachers are working from closets).

Details from both options were presented to the Trustees on January 18 and a discussion followed. Because of supply chain issues, we do not believe we could have the four-story building back online before the start of next year. Also, the costs of bringing that four-story building online are approximately three to four times as expensive as the estimated costs of the renovations needed at the Liberty Campus.

To create a band hall, choir room, STEM lab and library, we will be bringing the “dead zone” (a section of classrooms on the second floor) back online that were historically abandoned when the mechanical systems failed. This space will provide room for a library and some additional classrooms. Many years ago, the current conference center space served as a band and choir hall, and we will again use these spaces for that purpose (and lose a conference center that we have relied on for several years as a professional development center).

We plan to renovate the “back cafeteria” at Liberty into a STEM lab. Because the conference center is currently being used by Credit Recovery students, they would be displaced. Our Credit Recovery and DAEP programs need less space than a full middle school. With the limited, but available, space at the Stroman campus (everything except the four-story building), we believe both programs can be served in that space. Moving the programs has the added benefit of increased safety for all our students.

It is my obligation to be crystal clear with the community about this plan. It is a stop-gap measure, and not a long-term solution. With the failed maintenance bond election, the district will continue to lose ground on all buildings since we simply cannot perform the maintenance needed. We will do all the maintenance work we can with the limited funds available, but none of us should have the unrealistic expectation our problems have gone away. They will continue to get worse, and they will continue to get more expensive the longer we wait.

By  Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.