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The ISD 197 school board is finalizing a process for changing the name of Henry Sibley High School. Back in December the board voted unanimously to change the name and now begins the process of deciding what the new name will be.
During the January 19 school board meeting, Superintendent Peter Olson-Skog presented a process and a timeline. A naming committee will be in charge of coming up with options for the new name. There will be two opportunities for the community to speak into the process through giving initial input and then feedback on proposed names. The naming committee will make a recommendation to the school board and ultimately the school board will decide on the new name.
The initial timeline proposed forming the naming committee in February, getting community input in March, name options developed in April, community feedback in May, and then a recommendation and decision from the board by June.
“I’m the first to admit we want to do this right,” said Olson-Skog at the January board meeting. “If this needs to be delayed for any reason, we can push it back as needed.”
The next step in the process is to approve a guiding change document that will give the naming committee clear guidelines and parameters. Some of those potential guidelines include giving at least two name options, not returning to the current name, and a requirement that recommended names receive support from at least 75% of the naming committee.
The timeline is already being pushed back as the board opted to see a draft of the guiding change document on February 1 and not approve it until February 16, in part to get further input and in part because newly appointed Board Member Marcus Hill won’t officially join the board until February 16.
The initial proposal included potential costs for the name change. Some of the expenditures are already in the budget, so additional costs for the name change range from $85,000 to $175,000 for a name change only and $330,000 to $535,000 if the mascot is also changed.
The range of costs is due to how quickly items with the old name are replaced. For example, phasing uniforms out over time wouldn’t have any additional cost, but replacing them all immediately would cost $115,000.
The major difference between changing the Henry Sibley name only and changing the Warrior mascot is the many places where the mascot appears—the priciest of which are the uniforms and replacing the Warrior logo on the football field and the Warrior name on the score board.
The estimated costs do not include changing the school’s color scheme.
Next Steps and Community Input
The next step is for the board to approve the guiding change document and for the administration to form the naming committee. Community members will be able to apply to the naming committee, and the superintendent will make those appointments. Look for applications to be available in the coming weeks.
In addition, the community has a voice in the process through an input phase and a feedback phase.
During the input phase, there will be guided conversations with a limited group of stakeholders as well as broad community input through surveys. The feedback phase will see similar opportunities for input as the naming committee looks to hear the strengths, concerns, and potential improvements to the proposed names.
Ultimately, the school board makes the final decision for the new name of the high school.
March 1, 2021 Update: Proposed Guidelines
Approval of the guiding change document was put off until the March 1 school board meeting. The latest draft of the document, which reflects interviews with school board members, includes guidelines to not name the school after a person and requiring that one of the two final options submitted to the board allows the ‘Warriors’ mascot name to remain.
March 1, 2021 Update (2): Guidelines Approved
The ISD 197 school board voted unanimously to accept the guiding change document, including the following guidelines:
- The school cannot be named after a person.
- The ‘Warriors’ mascot name will not be changed (the board took a straw poll on this, with five in favor).
March 5, 2021 Update: Apply to the Naming Committee
ISD 197 is now accepting applications for the High School Name Committee. You can apply online and the deadline is 5 p.m. on April 2. The committee will be comprised of 25 to 30 community members and will require four meetings in April, May, and June.
The late formation of this committee does push the timeline back. Given their meeting schedule, it seems the earliest the committee could present proposed names to the school board for approval is likely July.
April 5, 2021 Update: Application Deadline Extended
The deadline to apply to the Naming Committee has been extended to April 9.
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