The Texas school district that recently voted to re-imagine a campus named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee with a more welcoming 21st Century nomenclature, unveiled that the projected costs to re-brand hovers around $300,000.
North East Independent School District Superintendent Brian Gottardy presented a report to the trustees Monday estimating a $299,098 price tag to rename Lee High. However, this is not a complete makeover. He said that would have totaled more than $1.3 million and included changing the school’s mascot and spirit colors.
Breitbart Texas reported that North East ISD trustees voted in October to change Robert E. Lee High to L.E.E., an acronym for “Legacy of Educational Excellence.” Potentially exorbitant costs influenced the trustees in choosing L.E.E. as the replacement name from more than 2,000 submissions received. At the time, Shannon Grona, school board president, noted: “We can minimize the number of things that need to be changed at the school.”
Thus, L.E.E. High will keep the existing mascot, the “Volunteers,” the red and gray spirit colors, and the many honors, trophies, and awards accumulated during nearly 60 years of operation as Robert E. Lee High. The school, though, will phase out the name “Lee” over time.
All Confederate iconography must go, including the school’s logo which features 13 stars and a cartoon Confederate soldier, “Grumpy Gus.” Also gone are the names of the spirit teams–the Rebel Rousers and Dixie Drillers. L.E.E. High will create a new school song.
Additionally, Gottardy introduced plans to open a museum on the campus to honor Robert E. Lee High School at a cost of $15,000. He said it would be open to the public.
The presentation broke down the $300,000 of expenditures into four categories — athletics, school facilities, fine arts, and Junior ROTC (JROTC). Athletics accounted for the bulk of the projected expenses at $94,235. Facilities followed at $85,572, which included signage, marquees, banners, flooring and decals, scoreboard panel replacement, plaques, and gymnasium floor refinishing, plus the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from the school’s lobby. Fine Arts estimated $60,835 would cover replacement spirit team paraphernalia and a $20,000 team rig. JROTC items reflected $18,456. The total package also factored in a $25,000 contingency fund.
“These estimates do not include the investment in branded merchandize made by staff, parent, and students for extracurricular activities, student clubs, or personal use,” noted the renaming report. “Although there is no way for district staff to calculate that with any accuracy, it is important to consider that the community’s personal costs may be significant.”
In 2015, North East ISD defied the trend to rename Lee High following the tragic Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting of nine black parishioners. Conversely, Houston ISD raced to scrub Confederate figure’s names off of eight of their campuses, spending nearly $1.25 million of their taxpayers’ dollars for politically correct eponyms.
This summer, North East ISD trustees felt pressured to rename Lee High name after the Charlottesville, Virginia, protest that turned violent.
This week, Austin ISD proposed an aggressive plan to rebrand five of their Confederate-named schools for $322,000 and have them ready to open at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.
On Tuesday night, a North Texas school board voted unanimously to remove Robert E. Lee’s name from an elementary school and replace it with the name of a longtime local educator Alice Moore Alexander. She began her teaching career in 1928, serving the community for more than 40 years, according to Denton ISD. Moore passed away at 100-years-old in 2007. The elementary school will assume her name next year. The school district did not provide any information about rebranding costs on their website.
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