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At the School Committee’s January 4 meeting, the process for giving a permanent name to the Converted Elementary School (formerly the Junior High School) was discussed. The school is currently undergoing renovations, scheduled for completion this summer.

During the public participation section of the meeting, Sanford High School teacher Paul Auger said mistakes have been made in the past with the process for naming projects. He gave the school mascot as an example. “It was done in sworn secrecy, initially,” he said. “The high school faculty was ordered not to comment…I don’t think that promoted transparency within the community.” He cited Alumni Boulevard as another example. “The name was brought forward at a meeting, and voted on at the same meeting,” he said. He asked for more public input and a more open process this time.

Superintendent of Schools Matt Nelson said that the Core Building Committee recommended naming the school after a person, in line with the other elementary schools in the city. This is only a recommendation, he pointed out. He also said the name should be chosen by February school vacation at the latest, to allow time for the signs to be fabricated and installed before school starts in August.

Committee Member Jonathan Mapes argued that the decision should not be rushed. “It’s the center of our community. We’ve got to get this right,” he said. Committee Member John Roux agreed.

Committee Member Amy Sevigny suggested having community members be part of a naming committee. Superintendent Nelson pointed out that a leadership team meeting with School Committee Chair Don Jamison and Vice Chair Paula Cote, Mayor Mastraccio and Deputy Mayor Herlihy is being planned. He suggested that might be a good starting point, and that a committee could come out of those discussions to move the naming process forward and take public input.

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