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05/20/2019

School Board favors, but tables revised policy for naming of school facilities

The School Board is considering a policy that discourages the naming of school facilities after a person.

The board on May 14, 2019 tabled revisions to its naming policy that prohibits naming of school facilities after a person, couple or family "unless there is universal support for this request."

Instead, the draft policy encourages creation of scholarships or endowment funds.

There was consensus to approve the draft May 14, but the board voted to table because the new language was significantly different from what was presented at the first reading April 4. "It's fair to ... table this for the next business meeting so it gives everybody ample time to consider the revised policy," said board Chair Susana Measelle Hubbs.

Since its creation in 2007, the policy has granted the School Board authority to name a school facility to recognize an individual, group or other entity that has made significant contributions to the schools. Naming a facility outside of a school building, such as an athletic field, ancillary building or a school itself, needs subsequent confirmation by the Town Council under the current policy, last reviewed in 2013.

On April 4 the School Board's policy subcommittee presented several alternative revisions, measured consensus among board members and brought it back to committee on April 30. "We had a very good discussion about it ... but ultimately ... we don't want to handcuff future boards," she said." said Policy Committee Chair Hope Straw. "We don't want to say 'we're not going to name facilities after individuals ever – period,' because ultimately there might be an exception," Straw said.

The draft further directs the School Board to establish a committee – consisting of the superintendent, two School Board members, one school building administrator, a teacher, a parent, and a community member – to review and recommend requests for naming. Final approval would be up to the School Board, and to the Town Council according to the draft, but Measelle Hubbs clarified that the board would still have sole authority to name facilities within school buildings.

In other policy matters the School Board on May 14 approved an update to the policy governing English language learners, bringing it in line with current practice and with the school's required Lau Plan; and, a new policy on distribution of non-school materials. The new policy limits information posted in the schools, distributed electronically or sent home in backpacks to materials directly related to school programs, curriculum or activities.

The board on May 14 also heard first reading of proposed updates to the policy on harassment and sexual harassment of students, bringing it in line with Maine School Management Association standards. The board will likely approve the updates at their meeting June 11.