By JOHN McBRYDE
The question of whether or not to name schools in the Williamson County Schools district after individuals has once again been punted another month while research can be done on naming parameters.
The decision to delay how wording would read in the policy regarding the naming of WCS buildings and ancillary facilities came at Monday’s board of education policy meeting. After a 12-minute discussion led by the concerns of 11th District member KC Haugh, school attorney Dana Ausbrooks said she would gather more information and present her findings at February’s policy meeting.
“This has come full circle,” she said.
At issue is wording in the policy that says, “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 most recent wording was revised from the policy that stated the board would discourage the naming of schools after individuals, but not steadfastly prohibit it.
“We’ve had so much discussion on this,” said Nancy Garrett, 12th District member and chair of the policy committee. “We’re usually more unified in our thoughts in everything we do.”
Indeed, the board has had lengthy back-and-forth discussions on the matter at previous meetings and work sessions, and Haugh kept the talks alive at Monday’s meeting.
“The gist of my concern is that most naming policies — if they’re going to allow the naming of schools after individuals — they have pretty specific guidelines,” he said. “Who merits that distinction and how does the process work? …
“One of my concerns is that if the opportunity to name buildings after individuals becomes policy, I would expect we would start to see a lot of suggestions along those lines and that would result in this board and future boards to be debating the merits of individuals and thus taking the focus away from the primary mission of just naming a school.
“Our function is not necessarily to elevate people to a status or to debate their pros and cons. … If we want to go down that path, it’s fine, but I want to have this eyes-wide- open discussion so we consider all the possible ramifications.”
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.