Board to discuss rescinding new school name

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An artistic rendering of the new elementary school to be built in Prospect. –CONTRIBUTED
An artistic rendering of the new elementary school to be built in Prospect. –CONTRIBUTED

REGION 16 — Due to procedurals errors, the Region 16 Board of Education is looking at starting from scratch on naming the new prekindergarten-through-fifth-grade school to be built in Prospect.

Last Wednesday, the board voted to name the school Chatfield Elementary School. The name was derived from suggestions from the public in honor of Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield.

School board Chair Priscilla Cretella said the board’s legal counsel reviewed how the name was reached and felt the board didn’t follow the proper procedures.

A school naming committee was formed earlier this year to take suggestions from the public and provide the board with three names. The committee finalized its three names through a secret ballot and presented them to the board last week. The board also voted through secret ballots to pick its names. Chatfield Elementary School was chosen through a secret ballot as well.

Cretella said the board was advised by its legal counsel that the board and the committee shouldn’t have voted through secret ballots because the meetings were public. She added the board was also advised it didn’t follow the naming policy, laid out by Superintendent of Schools Tim James before he took a medical leave of absence, correctly. The policy states the naming committee is to give the board its three names after the board picks its two, she said. However, the names were given to the board before it chose any names. Also, she said, the board was supposed to vote on the name in a subsequent meeting, under the policy, rather than the same meeting it picked its two names.

“We did not realize that was wrong at the time and we are trying to do it correctly,” Cretella said.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. A revised agenda for the meeting includes discussion and possible action regarding attorney-client privileged communication concerning procedures for naming the new school, discussion and possible action on a motion to rescind the vote taken by the board to name the new school and discussion and possible action regarding revised procedures for naming the new school.

An executive session is also scheduled if the board decides to hold one.

Cretella said the board has received criticism from both towns on its process of naming the new school. She said the board will have a thorough discussion on the policy and that the board will not be voting on a new name Thursday night.

7 COMMENTS

  1. iheartbf and Jack your totally right! Its not appropriate or fair to anyone. There are many other ways to honor mayor Bob. The firehouse, senior center, library. With all due respect his name should be removed.

  2. This is hardly something new. Due to weighted votes which gives Prospect and Beacon Falls members of the Region 16 Board of Education 1.3 and .7 votes respectively, as well as a larger population, Prospect will almost always be able to force its will on Beacon Falls. More important than the name is the cost of the new school which Beacon Falls voted against but will nevertheless have to pay for.

  3. As a Beacon Falls resident, I strongly object to a REGIONAL school building being named after Prospect’s Mayor. If the citizens of Prospect want to honor their long serving Mayor, I suggest they choose a building owned by their town. Would Prospect residents think it appropriate to rename Woodland High School after a Beacon Falls town official? I would respectfully ask Prospect’s Mayor to decline the honor.

  4. As a Beacon Falls resident, I strongly object to the new Regional elementary school in Prospect potentially being named after Mayor Chatfield. If the citizens of Prospect want to honor their long serving Mayor, they could name one of the Prospect town buildings after him. From what I understand the building naming committee was primarily made up of Prospect citizens. I think you will get a much different perspective if you talk to Beacon Falls residents, who will be paying taxes for the new school building.

  5. Now, if the School Board jumps through hoops to get it right and still decides to name the school after the Mayor, what would all this jumping around have really accomplished? Does this mean that the Chatfield name must be removed from consideration?

    I do not care that there is another Chatfield school in another town. Call it the Robert (Middle Initial) Chatfield School and be done with it. Just do not gold-plate the letters!

  6. Did no-one realize that there’s already a Chatfield school within 10 miles of this site ? With all due respect to the Mayor and certainly not taking away from his dedication and accomplishments, it seems to me the name’s already taken. It would be a logistic mess for both Region 16 and the Chatfield school that already exists. (I also don’t believe that with all the options for naming a school that a REGIONAL school district should consider a school name that’s so slanted towards one of its member towns.) Unfortunately, I was unable to complete the survey but my suggestion would have been “Region 16 School 26” as a somewhat subtle homage to the heroes and innocents of Sandy Hook.