Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lee High School Name Change Could Cost District Upwards $300K

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 12:39 PM

  • Northeast Independent School District
  • Robert E. Lee High School
Back in October, when the North East Independent School District board voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School to L.E.E. High School (short for Legacy of Educational Excellence), their reasoning for the new, similar name was to minimize the amount of money and work it would cost the district.

But even though the change from Lee High to L.E.E. High was intentionally minor, it didn’t save the district from a pricey process — in all, the district estimates it will cost them approximately $300,000 to update the campus with the new name, according to a presentation obtained by KSAT. The district estimated the cost of changing the school name, mascot and school colors could amount to more than $1.3 million.

For now, the school will be keeping their mascot, the “Volunteers,” the same school colors, and the phrase “Lee” will be phased out over time. They’ll be getting rid of any Confederate symbols and names, including “Robert E.”, a logo depicting 13 stars, and a logo of a Confederate soldier named “Grumpy Gus.”

The push for the name change came months ago, when 19-year-old Gianno Gomez circled a petition asking the school to make a statement by renaming Robert E. Lee High School after the violent, white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12. Shortly after, with their backs up against the wall, the board voted unanimously to allow a public poll to change the school’s name, although they called it a “no-win” situation and a disruption.

The school board received 2,443 new name submissions in a public survey, but only 542 of those met the board’s criteria. Of those, many kept “Lee” in the name, either as an acronym or as the last name of other notorious Lees: Harper Lee, Stan Lee or Bruce Lee.

Ultimately, board members voted 5 - 2 to change to (L.E.E.) High School.” Edd White, one of the two dissenting board members, pointed out the change was too minor, and that it was another example of the district trying to make the Confederate undertones in the school more "palatable."

“I just think we’re trying to put lipstick on a pig if you’re still gonna have the acronym L.E.E.,” White said.

It’ll cost the district $14,100 to remove “Robert E.” on the exterior of the main building and replace it with “Legacy of Educational Excellence,” and another $18,000 to repaint the gym floor that reads “ROBERT E. LEE.”

The highest cost for the district will come from the athletic department, with an estimate just shy of $95,000. The name change will also cost approximately $85,572 for general facilities, $60,835 for the Fine Arts department and $18,456 for JROTC.

The school is also budgeting $15,000 for a “Robert E. Lee High School Museum” they are planning to develop, though it's unclear if it will be used to house any of the items being removed in the process.

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