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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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School board to move ahead with naming, renaming schools

The Spokane Public Schools board plans to rename some schools with an eye toward diversity.  (JESSE TINSLEY)
The Spokane Public Schools board plans to rename some schools with an eye toward diversity. (JESSE TINSLEY)

Spokane Public Schools is moving forward with plans for naming new schools and renaming some old ones along with some of their nicknames and mascots.

During a special meeting Wednesday night, the board of directors will discuss proposed policy revisions that could lead to some changes.

Spokane hasn’t named a new school building for more than 25 years. That will change soon, as the district completes three new middle school buildings approved as part of a capital bond approved by voters in 2018.

The district had expected to have all three buildings named by now. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed the initiative to the back burner.

Public input has been strong and steady. As of Tuesday, the district had received 237 unique suggestions and 754 overall for the three new middle schools and the On Track Academy, which also will be renamed.

In the meantime, the Black Lives Matter protests offered board members a chance to reflect on the names of existing buildings and mascots.

Of the 45 school buildings in the district, all but five are named after white men.

No examples were offered during a work session last summer, but first-year director Nikki Lockwood referenced a spreadsheet “of who we name schools after.”

“I see some room for change there,” Lockwood said. “I think that would be a great conversation to have.”

That conversation will be joined Wednesday night. No action will be taken during the Zoom meeting, but board members are expected to set the tone for future discussions.

The proposed revisions maintain the language for naming new schools but add direction on mascots to include “Represents spirit of the school, identify with a characteristic of the school community, encourage pride and energy, and represent courage and integrity” and “Avoid representation or association with weapons or stereotyping of various cultures.”

The board also may decide on a timetable for naming new schools and selecting mascots.

Most of the proposed policy changes address the renaming of current buildings.

Steps would include submission of a request to the superintendent’s office, presentation to the school board and a public hearing before the board would decide on a name change.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the board also is expected to finalize the timetable for naming new schools and mascots.

The first of the new middle schools, to be located adjacent to a new Albi Stadium, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022.

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