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Changing Name of Texas Public School Will Cost Taxpayers $500K

HOUSTON, Texas — Changing the name of just one middle school in Texas will cost Houston taxpayers almost $500,000. Some Houston taxpayers are not happy about the cost of the name change, and some former students, parents of students, and current students at the middle school are not happy about the name change either.

A very slim majority on the Houston Independent School District (HISD) voted to rename Sidney Lanier Middle School. The resolution passed by a 5-4 vote.

A resolution for a February 11, 2016 HISD board meeting asking that Lanier, and Albert Sidney Johnston Middle School, and Jefferson Davis High School be renamed, states that the associated costs to the district include $475,250 for just Lanier Middle School.

Changing the stone signage to the front facade will cost $275,000, changing the brass letters set in the original Terrazzo floor in the front entry will cost $7,185, and sanding, repainting, and refinishing the gym floor, and changing the painted logo on the swimming pool room combined will cost $19,100.

The school marquee will have to be changed ($4,750), as will the athletic field signs and score boards ($3,050) and floor mats in the entry of the school ($2,500). The etched glass in the attendance office change will cost $2,700, and there is a collage mural in the stairwell that will cost $1,030 to update.

Changing the school name on uniforms is very pricey – $15,000 for dance uniforms, $14,000 for football uniforms, and $3,000 for soccer uniforms.

There is also a notation on the resolution calling for “$60,000 Per PTO” for “PTO Inventory of School Uniforms.”

Changing the auditorium seats will cost $60,000. The bases of the seats would need to be repainted to remove “SL.” This estimated cost also says that repairs on broken seats and backs will be made at the same time. There is no delineation for just the cost of the repairs to the seats and backs.

Metal balconies with “SL” outside has a cost of $7,200.

There are other costs associated with the name change, bringing the sum to almost $500,000 at this point, but you get the idea.

In a February 9 email from HISD Trustee Wanda Adams, she asked Kenneth Huewitt, Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, “do we know what that projected cost would be?” Huewitt responded, “No this is not a budgeted item. We would pay for the one-time cost out of fund balance.”

The resolution ordering the renaming of these schools provides:

Board Policy CW(LOCAL), Naming Facilities, states in part, ‘In all cases, the name of a school, specific area of a school, or other District facility must respect cultural differences and values. The Board of Education, through a resolution that deems the renaming to be in the best interest of the District, may initiate the process for changing the name.

It also provides:

COST/FUNDING SOURCE(S):      None

STAFFING IMPLICATIONS:          None

ORGANIZATIONAL GOALS/IMPACT:   This agenda item supports HISD Goal 5; Improve Public Support and Confidence in Schools and is aligned to Core Initiative 5; Culture of Trust Through Action.

Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting told Breitbart Texas, “The real irony is that HISD Trustees say the renaming of Sidney Lanier is being done to improve public support of HISD.” He added, “No one asked for this, and it is clear the neighborhood is vehemently opposed to changing the name of the school at all. This is destroying public support. Taxpayers deserve to know what this will cost.”

A parent activist group, Lanier Watchdogs, mobilized to fight the name change and say they are watching the costs that are now associated with the unwanted name change. They urge that Syndey Lanier was not an officer or a hero in the Civil War, he just fought to protect his land. He served when he was just 19 years old for five months and he was a private. His contribution in his life was as a writer and a musician. He loved to write poems. The school was named for him in 1926.

This article has been updated with additional information.

Lana Shadwick is a writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2

HISD Resolution and Emails re Renaming Schools

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