AP NEWS

our view Vidor students, teachers deserve Harvey recovery

April 14, 2019

Tropical Storm Harvey was a huge assault on people and places in Southeast Texas, but most started to regroup quickly, and most are also pretty far along in the process. The Vidor ISD is an unfortunate exception, and that needs to end.

As our front-page story today by reporter Haley Bruyn lays out, hundreds of students are still stuck in portable buildings. The buildings damaged by Harvey are dry after taking on two feet of water, but they still look as if a hurricane just blew through them.

This must be said: Yes, students can learn and educators can teach in portable buildings … or tents for that matter. The external facilities of any school district must always be secondary to the commitment of teachers and the desire of students to learn and grow. Great things have been done in classrooms with broken windows and peeling paint.

That being said, the process is still easier in permanent buildings with decent HVAC, lighting and backup materials like maps and televisions. There is no excuse for the Vidor ISD not having more of that, nearly 20 months after the storm. Almost no other school district or city in the region is struggling with Harvey recovery like this, and that’s not a distinction the Vidor ISD wants to keep.

Most, but not all, students are adapting to this “new normal.” Things like this are difficult enough for adults, but they can overwhelm teens and preteens. They just don’t have the coping skills that adults have. Experiences like this can make school an ordeal rather than something to look forward to. They may not be inclined to pursue college after graduation - and some might even drop out.

School officials and FEMA representatives have been trying to resolve all this, but whatever the cause, the focus now must be getting to the finish line as quickly as possible. Both sides need to get together and start attacking the list of problems and hangups until they have been eliminated. If state legislators or congressional representatives need to get involved to make things happen, they must be contacted.

It will end eventually, of course, but no one should be satisfied with that. Even now, a permanent middle school is at least two years away. Every day this drags on, the school district suffers, and people or businesses that were thinking of moving to Vidor may have second thoughts. Those schools should be a bragging point for Vidor, not a source of embarrassment. Action must replace words and intentions.