HOLYROOD — The Unified School District 112 Central Plains Board of Education voted at its Monday meeting to change the names of three of the four schools in the new consolidated district in an unanimous vote.
The new names for the schools are: Claflin Junior/Senior High School, Central Plains High School — Claflin; Quivira Heights High School, Central Plains Junior High School — Bushton; and Quivira Heights Elementary/ Junior High Schools, Central Plains Elementary School — Holyrood. The Wilson schools will retain the same names, colors and mascots.
The board moved the meeting to the Holyrood Elementary School Gym to accommodate the large crowd of 187 visitors.
The student councils from each of the high schools addressed the board on the issues.
The Wilson Student Council told the board that they did not want to change the name of the school, mascots and colors because the community passionately opposed the name change. Wilson Baptist Church brought a bus load of individuals to the meeting.
The Claflin High School student council had a different idea about names, colors and mascot. "We want to be involved in changes of the mascot and colors for the consolidated school," said Morgan Heckele, CHS student council. "Our goal is inclusion."
They want to hold class meetings for grades 5-12 at both Quivira Heights and Claflin to decide on colors and mascots. The student suggested narrowing down the choices and making the final decision with school board approval.
The Quivira Heights High School Student Council felt the same way. The mascot and colors, "must be chosen by the students as they will compete and be represented," said one student. "The combination should represent a new direction for both schools."
The meeting was then opened up to the public for comment that at times grew heated.
"I have concern about the changes of names in Wilson," said audience member Virginia Ptacek. "It is a waste of money to change the name. I am not alone in my discontent.
"We were told Wilson would be left alone and feel betrayed," said Ptacek. She also spoke of the cost of replacing uniforms and colors.
Dawyna Hickel, Claflin, opposed the changes as well because of the cost of replacing uniforms and redoing and repainting the courts and walls. She told the board that she wanted the parents to make the decision.
Claflin High School student Tanner Dahlke said, "if we did not change, it would not work. It is not fair to us. It is the parents who are having a fit over everything. We need to be changed." His comments were met with applause.
The board discussed the name change issue and decided that the district needs to be unified, but wanted to retain some identity of the schools. They then decided allow the student councils to use the process above for the change in colors and mascot with Wilson staying the same.
Board member Bert Besthorn said there would be cost involved, but that school uniforms have to be replaced after five years, and that the floors in the gym are typically refinished each year. There will be one mascot and color for all three buildings in the southern part of the school district.
In other business, Superintendent Steve Woolf reported the school district has about 600 students and that nine weeks into the school year, the estimate of dollars saved by the consolidation is $300,000, expects more savings in the future when there are only two high schools in the district and Claflin Elementary School is closed. They would have at least $800,000 less if they did not consolidate this year with the reductions in base aid and other costs, said Woolf. "We are about kids getting the opportunity to chase dreams. We want to invest tax dollars with kids."
In final business, the council approved:
• An audit report from Adams, Brown Beran and Ball for USD 354 from 2009-10.
• Wilson Future Farmers of America trip to the National FFA conference.
• The Birger Sandzen paintings in Holyrood and Bushton will remain on display. Woolf reported that the paintings are insured.