The Dixie School District, a 2,000-student school system based in San Rafael, Calif., has decided to change its name.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the district's school board voted to remove "Dixie" as part of its name because of the word's connection to the Confederacy.
“You know Dixie is a racist name, so change it,” Dixie Elementary fifth-grader Bali Simon told the board. “I believe I speak for the students when I say it’s time to change the name. I’m hoping I can go back to school next fall proud of our new district name.”
District leaders have not chosen a new name, but say they hope to have done so by the time 2019-20 classes begin in August. The board plans to appoint an advisory committee that will evaluate suggested names and make recommendations to the board.
The vote is the latest step in a clash that has pitted neighbors against one another and put the small school district in the national spotlight.
The school board discussion of the issue focused on how to pay for a change, which would include replacing lettering on buses, changing signage at Dixie Elementary School, and printing new marketing materials and other administrative equipment bearing the old name. Officials estimated that adopting a new name could cost nearly $40,000.
The Marin Community Foundation has pledged $40,000 to cover the cost of putting a new name in place.
Most of the few dozen speakers commented in favor of changing the name, citing the word’s association with enslavement and the Confederacy and its offensiveness to black residents.
Opponents of the name change who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting felt that the community’s inclusiveness is a direct rejection of the values of the Confederacy.
Others were more concerned with how the debate had inflamed tensions between neighbors and could be taking time away from other important issues.
Dixie School District was established in 1864 in northern San Rafael. It has about 2,000 mostly white students and four schools.