Name delay

With the many challenges currently facing the Lawrence school district, renaming local junior high/middle schools can wait.

January 21, 2011


A project doesn’t have to cost a lot of money for it to be costly. We are concerned that the Lawrence school board will find this out the hard way as it takes up the issue of renaming the city’s junior high schools.

The city’s four junior high schools — Central, South, Southwest and West — will undergo a major change next school year when ninth-graders move to the high schools and sixth-graders move from the elementary schools to the junior highs. At that point, the schools no longer will be junior highs but rather will be middle schools. Earlier this month school board members decided to add to the changes by considering new names for all the junior high schools. The board agreed on a 4-3 vote to move forward — not the best indicator of a smooth process to come.

At Monday’s meeting, the board is set to form naming committees for each school. We would suggest instead that the board reconsider the entire idea.

The Lawrence school district, like districts across the state, faces serious challenges. School funding will be a dicey topic in the state Legislature. The issue of faculty pay and retention is an ever-present concern. And a critical discussion regarding neighborhood schools and how to best provide a quality education in an efficient manner must be had.

During this important time, a majority of the board proposes to have a conversation about whether simple words such as Central, South, West and Southwest strike the right chord. The process sets up possible debates about whether this “famous Lawrencian” deserves recognition over that famous Lawrencian. We will disagree over the history and meaning of the current names and likely open up old wounds in the process. And to top it off, many residents who don’t have children in the schools will become mighty confused.

For many, this naming exercise sounds a bit like a fiddle playing amid a burning Rome. For the more cynical, it may bring to mind the scene of a magician asking you to look over here while the trick is actually performed over there.

It would be a shame if the Lawrence school district spends one of its most valuable assets — the energy and engagement of the public — on this issue. That is the true cost of this proposal: The spending of public goodwill.

School names are important, and perhaps at some future time the board should take up the issue. But for now, the board should ask itself the age old question: What’s in a name? In this case the answer is clear: The potential for a needless fight.


Success 6 years, 11 months ago

I disagree. Rome isn't burning, we aren't playing the fiddle and the community isn't going to suffer by engaging one another in civil discourse.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 11 months ago

The district is going to be short even more money next year. This really makes some of us question if some of the board has really thought about this. Are you going to pull up the tile floor at Central b/c it says Central Mustangs? What about all the team uniforms? Think of all the things that would have to be changed! That has been there for a very long time. I read the comment it wouldn't matter b/c the kids who will be attending these schools don't have any affiliation with the names. I beg to differ. Some of these kids do care. They have grandparents, parents, and siblings that have attended these schools. My children are the 2nd generation to attend South and the 4th generation to attend LHS. I know that it's not the same building at South but that doesn't matter. It will always be South, Central, West and Southwest Jr. Hight. To most people a name doesn't matter. I probably wouldn't care if the district wasn't in such financial trouble. But is this really what WE want our money spent on? I believe you have alot of people that say NO!


Success 6 years, 11 months ago

These schools are places. Places are created by the intersection of relationships over time and geographic space. Places have meaning to individuals and communities. At a recent choral concert at Central Junior High School, student sung the words that honored members of our community who had served our country and died in WWI. Over the years, our community has layered meaning upon meaning to this place.

The community now stands at the threshold of a significant change in the nature of the use of these places. Each of these places deserves the opportunity to reflect and discern meaning and to attempt to give expression to that meaning. A name is how we accomplish this.

I believe that symbols are important to the life and well being of a community.

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

Wow. My gut reaction is to quote Dean Vernon Wormer's response to Greg Marmalard: "Cut the horsesh&*, son!"

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 11 months ago

They may be places but what is so wrong with leaving them the way they are? I say nothing. I hope this committee really studies what it's going to cost to do something like this. They are cutting more money from the budget and all our board can do is think about how to spend more money. I think there are other places to focus on than changing the names of the schools.

Success 6 years, 11 months ago

If the schools want to keep the names the same they will come back with those recommendations.

The Board has made no commitments to changing mascots, or any other significant expenses associated with any name changes that might emerge from the community committees.

Chelsea Kapfer 6 years, 11 months ago

How much money is budgeted to this "commitee"? And how much time will be allotted for this "committee" to meet? I'd like to see a breakdown of hours/salary.

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 11 months ago

I don't think the change of names should of ever been brought up. It wasn't the community that brought it up. I believe it was the board. Am I wrong?

Eddie Muñoz 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with the editorial and with this comment.

livinginlawrence 6 years, 10 months ago

As do I. It seems that all we ever hear about the schools is how strapped they are for resources...and now this? Intuitively at least, it just doesn't make much sense.

pinecreek 6 years, 11 months ago

Good grief Rich, look out your window. This isn't the same environment that you were elected in--you should be focusing on how the District will survive the next budget and prepare for the (smaller) one after that. Expending effort, goodwill and money for something with a negligible proof of return is a very poor investment in 2011.
I voted for you in the past-I'm very disappointed that this is what you think is this District's priority at this point in time. Truly a 'cannot see the forest for the trees' situation. Drop this effort and get back to basics.

ranger73 6 years, 11 months ago

I for one am inpressed that Mr. Minder has at least put out his reasoning for considering the name change (albeit on a forum such as this.) Whether or not you agree with his reasoning, at least for one of our board members it seems like a reasonably thought out decision, and not some faceless knee-jerk reaction that we are all too accustomed to seeing in this town. Besides, as Mr. Minder states, if the school wants to keep their current name, then that will be the recommendation. As for this little bit of reasoning from the editorial staff..."And to top it off, many residents who don’t have children in the schools will become mighty confused..." Wow. Really?

livinginlawrence 6 years, 10 months ago

Please. A little romanticism can be nice at times, but Minder's "reasoning" (your word; I'd sooner call it his rationalization) is just overly sentimental. Especially when keeping in mind the cuts Brownback intends to make, it just seems a bit silly to be using resources on frivolous things that add zero measurable value.

Kontum1972 6 years, 11 months ago

obtw...where's all that lottery money that was suppose to help with education?

thats one of the bill of goods that was pushed as a "good thing" to benefit our schools..vote for the Lottery.

Kontum1972 6 years, 11 months ago

oh yeah check out that ad that is flashing on this page ------> "Kansas Strong"

Phil Minkin 6 years, 11 months ago

It must be a sure sign of the Apocalypse. I agree with a LJW editorial. If absolutely necessary(?) pick names now, but implement them in 3 years.

avoice 6 years, 11 months ago

Why is no one, including the editorial's author, talking about the fact that changing the school names involves a great deal of actual financial investment. Not only are you possibly looking at tearing up tiles from the floor, but you are definitely looking at all new stationery, new signage, new indentification stickers and a mish-mash of things that have the old school names on them. Who knows how many items will be involved, multiplied by four schools. How about someone on the school board figuring up these costs without delay?

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 11 months ago

Exactly! More spending when there's no money. What's the matter with the names they have now?

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 11 months ago

I think that's what I was trying to say. I just didn't list all the possiblities. I'm sure we all could collectively come up with many.

LadyJ 6 years, 10 months ago

New computer software, man hours to change things already on computer under old names, district wide. Will past student's school records have to be changed?

anneht 6 years, 11 months ago

More money, more money, more money......I personally do not have any more money for the Lawrence school system..... it seems to me the board spends most of their time thinking up new ways to spend the tax money they get from us....way too much., Help we poor people!

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

Why not just make a public proclamation that in Lawrence, Kansas, the definition of "Junior High" shall hereby be defined to encompass sixth through eighth grades. That would take care of this non-issue.

Be some other name! What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; --William Shakespeare

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

Then there is Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," the play of which was performed by the students of Central Junior High nearly four decades ago. I played the role of Humpty Dumpty, and fondly remember the following exchange between Alice and my character:

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that's all."

Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as a one-time mediocre child thespian, as master, I hereby proclaim that "Junior High" means "sixth through eighth grades."

Now, lets be done with this nonsense. We have bigger fish to fry.

rivercitymom 6 years, 10 months ago

Rich - I appreciate that you have come onto the forum to express your opinion. Here is my opinion: all of the changes that are about to take place are, in many ways, going to be painful for our community. They are going to be tough on teachers, kids, families. Sure, we will all adjust and life will go on, and perhaps our schools will all be better for it. Still, why do we insist on adding (needless) fuel to the fire?

Sheila Hooper White 6 years, 10 months ago

I know that I brought up the fact my family has gone to these schools. That has nothing to do with why I don't think the names should be changed. I am all for making changes but not spending major amounts of money to do it. Leave out the tile floors or anywhere else at the 4 jr. highs that have markings that are going to cost to change. It's still going to cost money to change uniforms, notepads, etc., etc. Those are the main things I'm talking about. Obviously the board can't completely agree (4-3) so why even bring it up. Leave the names alone!!!!

Thanks to those who agree. Hopefully we can get the board to see this is not a good idea. I will be at whatever meetings I can attend. It may be hard b/c I do have children and my husband works 2nd shift, but I will do my best to be there. I hope others can too.

I think many of us make good points and hopefully the board and committee members take it into consideration.

Bob Forer 6 years, 10 months ago

While those who post here hardly constitute a sufficient sample number, I would hope the school board members who voted in favor of the name-change committee take to heart the fact that such frivolity has been almost unanimously denounced by those who choose to post here.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

If they go through with these name changes, and thus incur numerous expenses which otherwise would not have been necessary, it will seal the deal for me on not voting for any bond issues for schools in the future.

I'm still upset about the money that was used for athletic fields, when I imagined it would be used to fix/maintain/improve buildings, HVAC systems, etc. It may have been technically ok to use the money for fields, but that's not at all what I voted for the bond to do.

beaujackson 6 years, 10 months ago

Lawrence taxpayers have reason to be upset re. unauthorized use of funds used to build eight lighted artificial-turf athletic fields + 8 tennis courts.

It is amazing how much spending power is invested in the school board, especially when there is no recourse after the facts are known.

True cost of these fields, including interest, will be close to $19,000,000.00.

"But it's all for the kids".

xyz 6 years, 10 months ago

As a proud grad of Sunset, West and LHS I say leave the directional names as they are. Prior posters have stated many good reasons as to why it is not worth the time and money to go through a renaming contest. Now, if the school board could get someone who is sitting on pots of money who wants to do a good deed (say Dougie C, Lew, etc.) to donate money to just make the changes from junior high to middle, that'd be a useful donation.

bearded_gnome 6 years, 10 months ago

At Monday’s meeting, the board is set to form naming committees for each school.

---stupidest thing I've ever read!

so what if all four committees say they want each school to be named "Langston Hughes Middle school?"

first, this is what the board is there for! second, school board: please come up with a policy, priorities, hirarchies, or something before you go to specific namings! third, having each school have its own naming committee is asking for trouble and the editorial here is correct.
fourth, a policy done at the beginning can prevent much of that. and maybe just don't do individual naming committees at all! fifth, school board members need to take the bull by the horns and just man-up.

Erin Graham 6 years, 10 months ago

Recall the KU font change? I can't remember what that cost, but I do recall my jaw hitting the floor.... Same concept, different situation.

I can understand wanting to give these places a new identity HOWEVER, a time of economic difficulty and strain is not the time to do that. ( to spell it out- "now". )

I haven't read all of the discussion, only skimmed (as with the article), but there is so, so, so much more involved than "just" changing a name. There's cost of new building signs, new stationary and PR material, changes to sporting facilities, changes to sports/cheer/band uniforms. Has the board considered ALL of the costs involved?

I'm not by any means saying "don't change it because it's the way it has been for years and the way it should stay". I'm saying let's wait to change it until we can comfortably afford things like teachers' salaries...

KIDS are the most important aspect of all of this. Let's not forget that. When they get to high school or college, what will be of more value to them- the things they learned in school (the quality of their education) or having a politically correct name slapped on their building?

Jeanne Cunningham 6 years, 10 months ago

$80,000 as I remember it and I still shake my head in disbelief every time I see that STUPID little tail on the K... So many bad jokes about "spending so much money" and "a little tail". I know you can figure them out for yourself.

And, if the schoolboard spends all the money it would take to make all of these changes, I don't know for sure what the bad jokes will be, but you can count on it - there WILL be bad jokes.

Where is anyone's sense of loyalty anymore!?!??! Doesn't tradition mean anything? What about all the adults who graduated from these schools? What happens when they want to come back to visit? to a school that doesn't exist anymore?

Whenever (in the far distant future, I hope) any of these buildings are closed or replaced, that MIGHT be the time to change the name. In the meanwhile, spend a few bits of gray matter doing something IMPORTANT. Think of something that will help kids learn!!!!

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