AUSTIN, Texas -- Scottie Spassky is a Lanier High School alum who remembers his alma mater fondly.
“I’ve been here all four years, I made great memories. I think the fact that people, old and new, can relate to the name — when you say Lanier High School, people recognize it,” he says.
The district proposal includes changing the names of the following schools:
- The Allan facility (former Allan Elementary), named for John T. Allan, an officer in the Confederate Army
- Fulmore Middle School, named for Zachary Taylor Fulmore, a private in the Confederate Army
- Lanier High School, named for Sidney Lanier, a noted poet who fought for the Confederacy
- Reagan High School, named for John H. Reagan, the Confederacy’s postmaster general
- Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston campus, named for Confederate Gen. Albert S. Johnston
But the district has may have different plans for the school name.
“We’ve been in talks with them as early as September to talk about potential name changes,” says AISD Special Projects Lead Brian Hill.
It has to do with the school’s namesake, Sidney Lanier, a soldier and poet loyal to the Confederacy.
“Board policy states that names can be changed if the individuals do not fit the core beliefs of the school district,” says Hill.
The school board decides which projects to prioritize. That’s where former students say the district is well-intentioned but misguided.
“I think the district should be focusing more on academics, and sports and music. Things that make the school what it is. To me the name doesn’t make the school. It’s the people and the things that they get from it,” says Spassky.
Five campuses are under consideration for name changes. Changes which don’t come cheap.
The preliminary price tag is roughly $77,000 for secondary schools, and about $14,000 for an elementary school.
“If this is something that the board decides that they want to look at and they do want to change the names, then that’ll be part of the discussion is the cost of changing names,” says Hill.
For the district it’s about re-inventing the urban school experience and part of that cost means making sure the taking a second look at the namesakes of certain campuses which don’t reflect the district’s values.
“I’m not gonna think that the school is bad just because of the name it has. The name was put here years ago, I can see why the school would want to change it but I think the money should be devoted other aspects of the school,” says Spassky.
Funding for the name changes will have to be identified as the process continues, but the district emphasized Monday that such funding will not come from the recently passed $1.1 billion bond package.
Public input is scheduled for later this fall with a possible board vote coming as early as next spring.