Williamson County school board decides on a school-naming policy, will put to a vote at next meeting


Williamson County school board decides on a school-naming policy, will put to a vote at next meeting

PHOTO: Jordan Elementary School, which opened in Brentwood for the 2018-19 school year, was the most recent WCS school to be named for an individual. It was named after Sgt. George Jordan, who was from the Triune area and became a Buffalo Soldier in the late 1880s. // File photo by John McBryde

By JOHN McBRYDE

With six quick words Monday night at the Williamson County Schools Board of Education’s policy meeting, school attorney Dana Ausbrooks placed a stamp of urgency on one of the policies that board members have been deliberating on for a few months.

“It’s time to name a school,” Ausbrooks said as she began to go over the most recently revised policy for naming new schools and ancillary facilities in the district.

In other words, there’s a new elementary school on Gosey Hill Road that will be needing a name before it’s scheduled to open later this year. From a timing standpoint, the policy needs to be finalized and voted on at the board’s next full meeting on Monday, Feb. 18.

“I know we would love to tell the naming committee which policy they’re going to use,” Ausbrooks said.

The board did change some phrasing in a section that’s a guideline for the naming committee, and also decided to strike the notice about naming ancillary facilities, but it will have a policy to vote on in second reading at the February meeting.

At issue had been wording in a revised policy that said, “Schools shall not be named after individuals, commercial developments, or residential developments.” The board voted at its December meeting for an amendment to strike the word “individuals” and, thereby, allow for schools to be named after people. The previous wording was revised from the policy that stated the board would discourage the naming of schools after individuals, but not prohibit it.

Also in the policy are criteria a naming committee must use if a school should be named after an individual:

  • The individual played a critical role or contributed to society in ways that supported the success and well-being of the individuals who lived in Williamson County, Tennessee, the State of Tennessee or the United States, now and in the future.
  • The individual’s principal legacy (i.e. the key activity, advocacy or accomplishment for which the individual is most known) aligns with or reflects the WCS mission, vision, core values and beliefs.
  • The individual has been deceased for ten or more years.
  • No building may bear the name of an individual convicted of a felony.

“These are criteria used by schools and universities and allows this board and future boards to name a school for an individual but to have a discussion if that’s the will of the board,” Ausbrooks explained.

The last WCS school to be named for an individual was Jordan Elementary, which opened for the 2018-19 school year in Brentwood. It was named after Sgt. George Jordan, who was from the Triune area and became a Buffalo Soldier in the late 1880s fighting in the Indian Wars.

The next new WCS school to open is an elementary school located on Gosey Hill Road in the Peytonsville area east of Interstate 65. The school board will be asked to vote on a zoning plan for the school at next month’s meeting, and WCS Superintendent Mike Looney will immediately appoint a committee to begin the process of naming the school.

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