GECDSB trustees approve changes to policy for naming and renaming board facilities


A policy change for naming and renaming board facilities for the Greater Essex County District School Board has been approved. 

During Tuesday's GECDSB meeting, a report was brought forward to the trustees to approve amendments to Policy and Regulation: Naming and Renaming of Board Facilities.

The report, which was approved by trustee's, explains the amendments, with one of the biggest changes being those who want a school to be renamed will now need to fill out a 'School Renaming Request Form', which will then be sent to administration. 

Administration will then decide if the grounds for a name change is reasonable, and if so it will be then forwarded to the trustees for further decision. 

Two meetings will then be held to discuss the name change, and if trustees still think the name should be changed, public input will be sought through an open survey. 

Previously members of the public who wanted a name change needed a petition with 100 signatures. 

The policy now also states that no board facilities can be named after a living person. 

Sarah Cipkar, GECDSB Trustee and Chairperson of the Policy Committee, says any member of the public can fill out the Renaming Form and justify their rational for a name change. 

"Rather than just have to get a petition, 100 people in the community, they can just make those concerns known to our administration. And our administration then would be the one who would be charged with deeming if it was substantive enough to be brought forward to the Board of Trustees."

She says naming or renaming of any facility does fall on trustees, and it's inherently a political decision. 

"Names get chosen based on monarchy, on different groups, even geographic concerns, and so we laid out very clearly what we would like to see in terms of the naming criteria. But at the end of the day, any suggestions that get brought forward by a naming committee do fall on the trustees to make that final decision."

Cipkar says while a school was named after David Suzuki, who is still alive, the trustees thought it would be best to not allow schools to be named after living people as it could be problematic.

"I think that we concluded that that's still not best practice, that still puts the trustees or anyone in the community for that matter at a risk position. And so we decided to include that in order to not have to face that kind of decision. But, David Suzuki was, I wasn't a trustee at the time, but it was kind of a different circumstance. And so trustees opted to waive the rules at that time."

Now that the policy has received board approval, the form will become available on the GECDSB website. 

The topic of amending the policy was first brought up during a board meeting at the end of February, 2023, and was moved that the Policy Committee review and revise the policy.