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Gainesville school board again delays decision on naming facilities
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Naming school facilities for Gainesville City Schools continues to be a source of dispute — six months after the issue was raised. The Gainesville Board of Education tabled a proposed policy for naming facilities Monday night after objections from board member Sammy Smith.

The board approved a series of policies in the spring, but it delayed action on the naming of facilities and the evaluation of the superintendent.

A policy for the evaluation was unanimously adopted Monday. It calls for the superintendent’s evaluation to be completed by the end of the school year. It also says the board members will provide “informal feedback” at the middle of the year.

The immediate need for a way to name facilities is the construction of a new elementary school in the Mundy Mill subdivision.

The proposed policy Monday called for naming facilities after “geographic locations, streets and/or other landmarks.”

Option 2 on the policy broadened that to “geography, neighborhoods, streets, landmarks, historic events, exceptional personal honor, grade designation or other established purpose.”

Smith, however, said it was not an “option” but was provided as an amendment or addendum.

He objected to the policy, emphasizing it “does not meet our currently named campuses.” He said he had suggested in the spring that “very broad categories” be added to the policy.

Smith and Superintendent Wanda Creel exchanged comments about the policy. She insisted she had tried to respond to all the comments she had received about the policy — referring to information from February. She added she had tried to include what “was never a policy but was a practice in 2002.”

Smith repeated his insistence that “those do not cover our current campuses.” He noted that Centennial Arts Academy was named “for a historic event.”

Creel suggested the board seek comments and suggestions for the new school through its website. A committee would then review those comments and recommend three names as possibilities. The board could choose one of the three or more comments could be sought, she said.

Willie Mitchell suggested it be tabled until the October work session, saying, “We need to get it out of the way.”

Board Chairwoman Delores Diaz noted, “We have a building under construction that we’re going to have to name pretty soon.”

Other items about the new school were not on the agenda, but Creel said a committee for drawing attendance zones for schools will be named soon. She also said she expects to hire a principal for the school in December so he or she can start work in January to begin considering staff.

Smith asked how many staff members the school would have. Creel said the number is not known yet, but it will have 60 classrooms.


• Diaz spoke at the end of the policy discussion — saying “misperceptions” about how the board operates needed to be aired.

The board approved “protocols” for how it functions earlier this year.

Diaz emphasized Creel “did not develop (the protocols). I did.”

She explained she sought out similar provisions from other districts and adapted them. She provided the board a “rough draft,” those were revised and approved, she said.

“Dr. Creel had nothing to do with that,” she declared. “I believe she is being blamed for making us do something. (She) did not have any input whatsoever.”

• Lee Cain, who is the construction manager for the district, said the amount of money available for fiscal year 2018 for a new Enota school is $6,662,340. The district will submit its 2018 capital outlay application for that amount, he said. Creel noted the district can withdraw its application, but it has to submit it or it would not be eligible for the money a year from now.

The board has not made a decision about the Enota facility. A meeting is planned at Enota at 6 p.m. Thursday to hear comments and questions about proposed plans for a new facility.