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School Board delays naming 3 schools

The board wants more people, especially parents and students, involved in picking the new St. Petersburg schools' names.


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001

The board wants more people, especially parents and students, involved in picking the new St. Petersburg schools' names.

LARGO -- The School Board on Tuesday put off naming three new schools in St. Petersburg, saying it wants a bigger, more inclusive committee to consider more options.

A committee recommended that a new middle school bear the name of Childs Park and that two new elementary schools be named after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and George Washington Carver.

But only seven people had been at the school-naming committee meeting when the names were chosen. On Tuesday, board members said that committee should include more than just principals, district officials and residents from a few community groups. They want the committee to involve teachers, area superintendents and the people who matter most: parents and students.

"It belongs to the parents and the kids," said board member Jane Gallucci. "I think they should be involved in the process."

The new schools are being built as part of a settlement between the School Board and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which sued the school district in 1964 for discriminating against African-American students.

As part of the settlement, the district will start letting parents play a role in selecting the schools their children will attend in fall 2003. To give more black students a better chance of going to school close to home, the district agreed to build two elementary schools and one middle school south of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

As with all other new schools on the drawing board, the committee met to discuss options and made a recommendation to the School Board. The committee considered only a half-dozen options, including Pinellas teacher and activist Olive B. McLin and Booker T. Washington.

The name of Childs Park was recommended to honor the community where the middle school, on 22nd Avenue S, is located. Martin Luther King Jr. was picked for the 22nd Avenue S elementary and George Washington Carver was picked for the 11th Avenue S elementary to signify "the strength of the human spirit."

Several board members stressed that they are not necessarily opposed to the suggested names, but thought a longer list should be considered. Moore said the committee should think about names that honor people important in Pinellas educational history.

In other news, board members approved a policy that will, beginning in 2001-2002, regulate announcements of non-school events.

Under the new policy, any organization that wants fliers passed out in schools must include this disclaimer: "The school is neither endorsing nor sponsoring this event nor approving or endorsing the views of the organization sponsoring the activity."

Under the new policy, a flier still will have to be approved by a district official, but the flier will have to be "consistent with the fundamental values of the school district." The flier will be limited to including the event, time, date and place.

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