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Education News

HISD Faces Fresh Pushback As Board Considers New School Names To Replace Ones Tied To Confederacy

It’s the latest chapter in the controversial process to change school names.


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If the Houston school board approves the new names, Reagan High School would no longer honor the Postmaster General of the Confederacy. Instead the campus would refer to the neighborhood and become Heights High School.

Sidney Lanier Middle School would become Bob Lanier Middle School. That would switch the title from a Confederate soldier and poet to Houston's former mayor — but still keep the last name Lanier.

The trustees for the Houston Independent School District will consider new names for seven campuses to replace ones tied to the Confederacy at its meeting Thursday.

But some parents and alumni from both communities say HISD should hold off, citing concerns from the budget and board rules to preserving history.

“It's troublesome to me to have 90 years of history just erased in a moment,” said Adrienne Murry. She's a parent and leader with the group called Lanier Watchdogs.

“We're not saying that Bob Lanier is not a great guy, but what we are saying is that the Sidney Lanier should not be changed. It's against what the neighborhood wants,” Murry said.

It's the latest chapter in the controversial process to change school names.

Earlier this year, the HISD board voted to scrap eight names with Confederate ties so that they reflect more of the district's values and diversity. Trustees tasked local communities to come up with new ones.

Already one campus has a new moniker: the former Grady Middle School is now Tanglewood Middle School.

Murry said that HISD skipped one of its own rules. That's to provide a detailed cost estimate and identify where the money would come from.

“Making up a number out loud in a meeting doesn't count. You actually have to put it in writing with the resolution and they didn't do that,” Murry said.

Lanier parents hired an architect to analyze the cost. They came up with half a million dollars, which is double what HISD quoted at roughly $250,000 per campus.

Ronnie Chavez, an alum of Reagan High School, said that the name changes are “foolish” spending because HISD faces a budget deficit of about $100 million for next school year and also ran into cost overruns in its school construction projects.

“They're spending money, the taxpayer's money, without any concern…Where are they going to get this money from?” Chavez asked.

The Houston school board meets Thursday at 5 p.m. at the district headquarters and the meeting is also broadcast online.

Other names on the agenda include:

  • Margaret Long Wisdom High School, currently Lee High School
  • Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School, currently Johnston Middle School

  • Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School of Excellence, currently Jackson Middle School
  • Audrey H. Lawson Middle School, currently Dowling Middle School

  • Northside High School, currently Davis High School

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