On June 16, 2021

What’s in a name? How much is it worth?

School district outlines donation regulations

By Curt Peterson

Windsor Central Unified Union School District board member and Policy Committee Chair Lou Piconi (Woodstock) reviewed the proposed naming policy the district hopes to employ when raising funds for the new $80 million middle/high school complex as well as other projects and programs on the drawing boards. 

The “first reading” was approved unanimously by the Board at their June 7  Zoom meeting. The second reading will take place June 21 and an adoption vote could follow. Six pages long and quite comprehensive, the policy details the process by which the District can name, or rename, facilities, programs or events to honor donors. 

First and foremost, the gifts must support “the District’s mission relative to providing a great education to every student,” according to the Policy Introduction. 

The board will use 11 criteria to determine non-acceptability of a donation: for non-mission compatibility, commercialization, interference with learning, association with alcohol, tobacco, drugs or weapons, promoting hostility, promoting religious or political groups, advocating a candidate or public ballot issue, suggesting illegal activities, or counter to local, district or community values. 

“Renaming” a facility that has already been designated to honor an individual has raised both eyebrows and voices since discussions began months ago. Some feel the proposed policy would discount actual educational contributions made by those previously honored, just to obtain a large amount of cash — rededication for dollars, so to speak. 

Piconi said the policy committee has been careful to build in a very rigid renaming process to protect the interest of previous honorees and their advocates. “Naming of facilities … in honor of individuals is generally expected to last the lifetime of the facility … except in the event of unusual and extraordinary circumstance,” the policy reads, but it doesn’t detail qualifying circumstances. “The Board recognizes that conditions may occur where the renaming of such … facilities may be appropriate or necessary.” 

Primary renaming recommendations will be made on a “case-by-case” basis. Thus far, there is no indication of what body will be making that decision. The fundraising working group (FWG), district superintendent and finance committee are to make recommendations for naming “buildings, or other large projects.” The FWG will also recommend the value of any “naming opportunities.” 

For example, if naming a building is to be considered, doing so will require approval by 60% of the board. Assuming the WCUUSD board’s 18 seats are occupied at the time of the vote, 10.8 members would be necessary for approval. In other words, seven members could block a renaming. Throughout the naming policy, the FWG is tasked with investigation, solicitation, negotiation, and consideration of naming and renaming. 

According to WCUUSD board Chair Bryce Sammel (Barnard), the FWG team will be finalized next week, and the members’ names will be posted online.

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