Charlottesville City Schools hit pause on school name change

Charlottesville City Schools have been in the midst of reviewing the names of all schools to see if they fit with the division’s current values. So far, the elementary school known as Venable is now Trailblazer and the one known as Clark is now Summit.

The School Board had been scheduled to vote on April 13 on new names for Johnson Elementary and Burnley-Moran Elementary out of a sense that the namesakes were people who worked for the school system during a racist era. 

However, Vice Mayor Juandiego Wade said the other night that the process is on hold. 

“I just heard from a School Board member that they have paused the name change for the schools,” Wade said.  

Wade’s comments came after those of a community member concerned renaming the schools at the time is confusing, given that the city just adopted new boundaries for voting precincts which become effective this Friday. Over forty percent of Charlottesville voters will cast a ballot somewhere new. (Council votes to approve new precincts with two new polling places, March 8, 2023)

“Nobody wants voters to show up at their old polling places being confused or seeing it as a barrier,” said Derek Hartline. “The confusion with polling places could get worse as seven of the nine precincts will be held at city schools while at the same time the School Board is going one by one and changing the names of schools, thus changing the polling places names.” 

A March 29 memo on the school renaming committee’s webpage states that a vote will still be taken on April 13 to affirm a desire to remove the old names but to pause finding new ones.

“It may not be possible to find names for Burnley-Moran and Johnson that combine both purpose and place, but we would like to slow down the name selection process to give us the best chance of finding lastingly meaningful and fitting names for our schools,” reads the update, which does not have a mention of polling places. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the April 5, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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