In less than 10 days we should know what the Lee County School District’s high school being built along Griffin Drive in Gateway will be named. Here’s what to expect between now and then:
On Monday, October 28 at 5:00pm the district’s unnecessary second name survey will come to an end. If you have not voted yet, I guess you should. Here’s the link: https://www.leeschools.net/our_schools/mmm
Then some time on Tuesday, October 29 we should know the results of that survey, along with the survey of East Zone eighth-graders, when the agenda packet for the next board briefing meeting is published.
Thursday, October 31 will be the date and 1:00pm will likely be the time for the above-mentioned board briefing meeting. It’s almost certain the elected school board members will come to an informal consensus on the name during that meeting.
Finally — and mercifully — on Tuesday, November 5 the LCSD board will vote to give “MMM” its official name. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for November 13.
Controversial words and actions by multiple board members have taken what should have been a pride-filled and joyous process of picking the school’s name and instead sucked all the fun out of it. And that’s unfortunate.
You could hardly blame Gateway residents for wondering aloud on social media what the eighth-graders were influenced to do by their teachers or peers, or about potential stunts the LCSD board could pull to skew the results. I cannot speak to the former, but as to the latter I’m not too worried.
Let me be clear: I have not spoken to any LCSD officials about the second survey results or the survey itself. But without going in to details, from what I know about how the survey is being conducted and who I believe is directly in charge, I do have confidence that the public will see the true and actual results from that survey. Whether or not members of the public attempted to stuff the proverbial ballot box is a separate issue, but I do have confidence that the results will not be altered by LCSD staff — and certainly not by a member of the LCSD board (none of whom will likely have direct access to the raw data in the first place, at least not before staff members see it).
There will be some question as to how the school district handles people who voted multiple times, especially since social media offered several examples of people showing they could clear cookies or go in to incognito mode and vote more than once. But Survey Monkey has tools on the “back end” of its software that help identify those votes.
In the five years I’ve been operating this publication and watching the Gateway District board, the school board and the Board of County Commissioners … one thing I’ve learned is that momentum matters on boards. Things you believe have no chance of passing end up gaining approval after one or two board members start making their case, and then momentum builds and before you know it there’s unanimous agreement.
The outrage exhibited by Gateway residents has halted any momentum that was building to do something unconventional and select a name other than the community’s. Additionally, the outrage has all but assured that the school board members know exactly what their mandate is from the public.
So if the school board members do come out and say “Okay. We hear you.” and vote in favor of Gateway High School as the name for MMM, we cannot continue to hold permanent animosity toward them for their initial positions on the topic.
They obviously got off to a terrible start and tossing out the first survey results was a huge red flag. But it’s safe to say the public has since made their point that the board will be expected to honor the Gateway community’s wishes to name the school what the overwhelming majority of the public wants it named.
As mentioned in a previous article, we have to call balls and strikes as we see them. Every single one of us does.
So for as much hell as we’ve been giving specific board members (and deservedly so), we must recognize and applaud them for doing the right thing when it mattered – assuming they do.
At some point in the future we’re all going to gather to cheer on the students at football games and other events. Let’s hope we all gather on November 5 and cheer and thank the school board members for approving the community’s desire to name MMM as Gateway High School.