Tyler ISD votes ‘yes’ to change names of both Robert E. Lee and John Tyler High Schools

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UPDATE – The Tyler ISD board has voted unanimously to change the name of Robert E. Lee and John Tyler High Schools.

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

“This has been a trying time to be a Board member to say the least,” Board President Wade Washmon said. “But I do believe the Board has made a decision that will remove a growing obstacle to our focus on successful student outcomes and has removed an issue that will only serve to be divisive for the community and future boards. We look forward to turning our focus back to successful student outcomes.”

“As always, I appreciate the Board’s work,” Superintendent Dr. Marty Crawford said. “Public service is sometimes a thankless commitment that is under-appreciated for the time given in place of personal business and family time. Concerning this issue, the Board was acutely sensitive to comments and commentary and realizes the significance of their decision.”

Now with the decision to change the names, Tyler ISD will consider implementing a new policy revising the current naming process.

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.

When introducing these changes, the district struck out the following guidelines.

  • 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

Members of the community may make suggestions on a new name, and the Superintendent may appoint a selection committee to review them. In the end, the Superintendent would introduce three options for a new name, and the final option lies with the board.

The next board meeting will be held July 20 at 7 p.m. Those interested in attending must contact Jennifer Hines by 10 a.m. Monday, July 20.

Statement from Mayor Martin Heines

I applaud the preparation and the diligence of the Tyler Independent School District (TISD) Board President Wade Washmon and the other TISD board members. Their vote tonight inspires a positive future for our community. It also allows the TISD educators, students, and parents to move forward with the huge task of reopening our newly built schools and furthering our student’s success.

For those of us that grew up in Tyler, we know that this has not been a quick decision. The names of the two high schools have been a topic of community discussion for at least 50 years. But remember these are just two high school names that reflect the past of two non-Tylerites. In my opinion, we are at a turning point. We listen with a fresh perspective as we move towards an inclusive future. Tonight, this community has come together through our elected school board to make this unanimous decision, which will provide the opportunity for public involvement in selecting the new high school names.

As we know, the consensus for thoughtful change is always a long road and never quick. The strength of our community is that we take the time to build this consensus. For those that advocated for this change, please remember that there are many people that are alumni of these two institutions that will need time to heal. Be proud of your role, but humble in your expression. Be mindful this will continue to be an emotional topic for many. Be sensitive to those holding a different view. I understand why some will be disappointed with this decision. To those that are, I urge you to remember why these facilities exist. They are built to be places that educate and inspire our young people so that they grow up with the knowledge and wisdom to contribute responsibly to our world. Simply put, they exist for Tyler’s tomorrow. Please listen to the younger generations who have told us that the names of these buildings should be ones they can be proud to own. While their vision for the future will change the name of the schools, it does not take away the positive memories we have as alumni.

With that in mind, I’m looking forward to my 40th REL reunion next year.

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