Though no school, field or facility is set to be named or renamed immediately, Burbank Unified officials took another step toward clarifying and completing a process for such a possibility at Thursday’s meeting.
The school board voted 4-0 to revise and finalize guidelines for the creation of a Facilities Naming Committee, which would handle such requests.
The committee would consist of two board members, the director of elementary or secondary education, the principal or site administrator, a current or former BUSD employee, a current parent representative, a BUSD student and two community members at large.
Those interested in joining the committee must download an application at burbankusd.org and submit by Aug. 30.
The policy revision comes because naming requests have been made.
At an April 19 meeting, a formal public request was made to name Burbank High School’s athletic field after former coach, athletic director and Hoover High graduate Dave Kemp.
On the flip side, a request was made May 17 to consider renaming David Starr Jordan Middle School. The school’s namesake is famous for being the first chancellor of Stanford and infamous for his views on controlled breeding, a concept later espoused by the Nazis and known as eugenics.
“We’re starting to collect applications for the committee,” Burbank Unified Supt. Matt Hill said. “Once we have representatives for each of those categories, then the committee will meet. The board policy highlights what they need to evaluate with the proposal.”
Thursday’s move was the latest in a process that included the naming policy being first read as part of a series of selected board policies and administrative regulations under review on July 19. The board voted to pass an updated naming policy on Aug. 2.
The revision to the school’s policy was spearheaded by board members Steve Frintner and Charlene Tabet.
“We wanted to try and be thorough,” Frintner said. “The policy that we had in place was good, but it was just a little bit outdated because we needed to address some things that have come up. That policy had been in place for many years and we were getting more requests.”
Previous to the change, the school policy listed very few rules in the naming of buildings or district facilities, which is that individuals or entities to be so honored “made outstanding contributions, including financial contributions,” to the school community, state, nation or world or that a building be named for its “geographic area.”
One new stipulation is that the “board will give strong consideration to names of women and/or minorities so as to encourage equitable representation among BUSD schools and facilities.”
None of the current 17 elementary, middle or high schools is named for a woman or minority.
“We don’t do the policy with the intent of trying to force change, we do it to try and address change when it’s brought to us,” Frintner added.
At the Aug. 2 meeting, the board first established protocols for a facilities naming committee, which were amended Thursday. Previously, Frintner had indicated that a current or former BUSD teacher be named to the committee.
That was changed during Thursday’s meeting from “teacher” to “employee.”
Talk of a name change elicited a response Thursday from Burbank High student body president Aleko Brice, who moments earlier had been sworn in as his school’s student board member.
“I would disagree with the action to do so as a board representative,” Brice said of a potential renaming of Jordan Middle School. “At that point, we might want to rename Washington Elementary School, Roosevelt [and] Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Pretty much every person from history has something that they’ve done that is not commendable.”
While no timetable was laid out for the naming or renaming process, Frintner was well aware the path forward will include friction.
“There are a lot of people in Burbank who are second or third generations that have attended our schools and they feel very adamant about the names,” he said. “We realize it’s going to be an emotional issue, a passionate issue and I think the way to try to deal with that is to make sure you’re deliberate, transparent and we give everyone a chance to get their voices heard.”