Botetourt school to review school naming policy

If the Botetourt School Board approves the policy proposal, no part of any school facility will be named for a person.

The board heard a report on the proposed policy at its November meeting last week and, as is the custom, agreed to vote on the proposal at its December meeting.

While the proposed policy will not allow parts of school facilities to be named in honor of persons—living or dead—it does provide that individuals, organizations or groups can ask that a special commemorative marker or plaque be placed in a school in recognition of an individual who has made “exceptional contributions to a school or to the school division.”

A School Board committee has been formulating the proposed policy since the summer when individuals appeared before the board to ask that the gym floor at Lord Botetourt High School be named in honor of retired basketball coach and teacher Don Meredith and a representative of Troutville/Daleville Athletic Club  asked that the soccer field at Troutville Elementary School be named in memory of the late Cecil Hoyt.

Those requests followed the board’s decision to dedicate the new softball field at James River High School in honor of longtime coach and retired teacher John Shotwell.

The board wondered if it was going to have to wrestle with other similar requests, so a committee was appointed to develop a policy that would address requests to dedicate areas of school facilities or grounds in recognition of individuals. School Board members Jack Leffel and Scott Swortzel were on the committee with administration representative Sam Foster.

The proposed policy about naming certain areas after a person is similar to the policy that does not allow the School Board to name a school or building after a living person.

The idea of allowing commemorative markers or plaques came from the committee examining policies that other school divisions have.

The request for a marker or plaque also includes a nominating form and a procedure for making the nomination and having it reach the School Board for approval.

The proposed policy says:

“The School Board acknowledges that the community may want to recognize exceptional

contributions to a school or to the school division. A commemorative marker/ plaque to honor individuals or groups will be considered for placement within a school building, field, or elsewhere on the school’s campus upon approval by the School Board.

“This regulation does not apply to fixtures within facilities or on grounds, such as dedicated benches and trees, if their initial cumulative value does not exceed $1,000.

“Generally, the following guidelines must be used for requests to place markers and/or

plaques in schools and on school grounds:

1. Individuals or community group(s) wishing to dedicate specific areas of school facilities should bring a Request for a Commemorative Marker/Plaque to the school’s principal.

2. Evidence of broad community support (e.g., PTA, booster club, faculty members) shall accompany the form.

3. The principal of the school, upon his/her review of the request, shall inform the superintendent.

4. The superintendent and principal shall determine whether a committee should be convened. The principal of the school involved shall appoint a committee composed of  administration, faculty, parents and/or patrons, and students.

5. The committee shall prepare a written report summarizing school and community recommendations, including supporting rationale to the division superintendent who will forward the report to the School Board.

6. The School Board shall then make the final decision.

7. If the request is approved, the School Board shall also approve the design and placement of the marker/plaque in schools and on school grounds.

8. The group initiating the request will be responsible for all costs.

“Individuals have a method of making a request and it starts at the individual school,” Leffel said of the proposed policy. “Then, eventually, it will or will not come to the School Board.”

Swortzel said the method will require that someone who is nominated for a marker or plaque will have pretty good support in the community; and it provides a way for a school to recognize someone.

Foster said he believes it’s important for an individual school to have a role in the process, too.

If approved in December, the policy will go into effect immediately.

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