Changing the names of eight schools who were named for people with connections to the Confederacy has cost the Houston Independent School District more than $1.2 million.
The Houston Chronicle reports that a school board has been asked to approve spending $1,245,197 to cover the costs of renaming five middle schools and three high schools. The funds would cover updates to school facilities; uniforms for athletics, band and Reserve Officer Training Corps; and temporary banners for schools being rebuilt.
Disclosure of the costs is the result of a lawsuit that some district residents filed earlier this summer seeking to have the cost of the name changes made public.
The lawsuit said that the district agenda items ordering the renaming of the schools listed the cost as "none." In May, when the board approved the new names for seven of the schools, the agenda items did not list a specific cost but listed the funding source as "general fund – fund balance."
The decision to give schools less controversial names comes after the board approved a policy last year that says school names "must respect cultural differences and values." The name changes also are part of a national movement to rename schools and remove symbols that are considered by some to be pro-slavery. The movement gained momentum last year after an avowed racist carried out a deadly shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C.
The renamed schools:
- Richard Dowling Middle School to Audrey H. Lawson Middle School
- Henry Grady Middle School to Tanglewood Middle School
- Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson Middle School to Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School of Excellence
- Albert Sidney Johnston Middle School to Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School
- Sidney Lanier Middle School to Bob Lanier Middle School
- Jefferson Davis High School to Northside High School
- Lee High School to Margaret Long Wisdom High School
- John Reagan High School to Heights High School