Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hillsborough County School District will consider renaming Lee Elementary

Tampa, let's name that school.

With the Hillsborough County School Board committed to rebuilding fire-ravaged Lee Elementary, the time has come to decide what to call it.

Students, parents and teachers call the place "Lee." But the full name on the red brick wall is Robert E. Lee, after the Confederate general. The mascot is Traveller, for Lee's gray American Saddlebred horse.

Is it time for a re-do?

The School Board will take the issue up at a special called meeting Thursday at 4 p.m. (They'll make some administrative appointments too.)

The renaming process began on June 13, 2017 after complaints from the community about Lee's Confederate legacy.

Three months later Hurricane Irma made its way across the state and plunged much of the city into darkness. After the power was restored, a surge sparked a fire at the Tampa Heights school. No one was injured. But between the fire and the water hoses needed to extinguish the fire, the building's interior was destroyed.

Construction and design professionals are now beginning the design process for the rebuilt school.

Anyone in the community can email suggested names to school.name@sdhc.k12.fl.us by noon on Tuesday, two days before the board meeting.

Here is the School Board policy on whose name can be given to a school.  The list includes former U.S. Presidents and outstanding citizens or educators. Elected officials must have left public office at least five years ago, and living people do not qualify.

Names suggested so far include Tampa Bay Elementary, Harper Lee Elementary and Amelia Elementary.  The district is reaching out to civic groups, community associations, nearby schools and Lee Elementary families and staff for their input.

Lee, the district's first magnet school, offers programs in world studies and technology. Since the fire, Lee's classes have been meeting at nearby Lockhart Elementary.

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