New names of Tyler ISD high schools announced after board meeting vote

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) The name has officially changed. In a board meeting Thursday morning, Tyler ISD board members voted to replace the name of Robert E. Lee High School.

In a 6-1 vote, the High School will now be named Tyler Legacy High School.

Also in a 6-1 vote, John Tyler High School will be renamed to Tyler High School.

Back on July 16, the board voted unanimously to change both names after demand from the community arose. After making this decision, a new policy was implemented for revising the current naming process.

“It was our goal to address this issue before summer ended and I’m glad we were able to before the school year began,” Board President Wade Washmon said. “Now it’s time to turn our focus back toward successful student outcomes and finding a way to win this year, even during some of the most trying times we’ve seen in education.”

Renaming Guidelines

  • A school facility may be named after any patriotic belief, principled ideals, values, desired qualities or aspired outcomes for District students or the community
  • A facility may be named after any local, state, or national geographic area, landmark, or physical attribute
  • A portion of a school facility may be named after a person who has served the District or community directly. Such portions of school facilities may include (but are not limited to)
    theatres, gymnasiums, fields, libraries, halls or corridors, or other sub-areas of a school facility.
  • A facility may be named after a person who has served the District or community
  • A facility may be named after any local, state, or national heroic figure

This is not the first time the name change debate has come up. Back in 2018, after several months of debate, the motion to change the school’s name was ultimately tabled with no action taken..

COST OF THE CHANGE

Part of the name change discussion includes the cost to rebrand all school equipment seen and used by students. The board said that the cost to replace sports uniforms and band uniforms was already allocated in the budget but awaits approval at a future meeting. Along with sports, the fine arts department mentioned how there is also an expense to replace trailer wraps, banners, and other equipment.

When it comes to facilities, the cost to replace branding would include gym floors, school signs, and the brick engravement above both high schools.

Approximated cost:

  • Fine Arts – Approximately $130,000
  • Athletics – Approximately $35/uniform
  • Facilities – Approximately $130,000

David Jones, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army and a 1982 graduate of Robert E. Lee High School, says when it comes to changing the name, he wants to know how Tyler ISD will pay for it and if it’s worth it for taxpayers.

ATHLETE PROTEST

The effort to rename Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler heated up after an athlete took her own stand, asking the board to “make the right decision”

Trude Lamb, a sophomore cross country runner, immigrated to the United States from Ghana in 2014. She wrote a letter to board members, which began by saying: “I have stood in the dungeons of the slave castle and see the three foot urine and feces stains on the walls… I have worked the very fields and fetched water for my family from the very places my people were kidnapped.”

KEEPING THE NAME SUPPORT

While many voiced their opinions for changing the name, there were some people that were in support of keeping them.

For those who want to keep the name, they say the change isn’t worth the cost.

“So let’s take that money that they’re wanting to spend changing the name. Let’s put it toward our teachers, let’s put it toward our education because it would be much better spent there,” said April Chennault, Robert E. Lee class of 1985.

Chennault also feels that changing the name reminds everyone of a historic past.

“History is what makes us. If you’re born here, you’re from the South. That is our southern heritage. We don’t have to agree with every piece of it, but that is still our southern heritage,” she sai

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