REGION 16 — For the second time this year, the Board of Education has given a name to the new pre-kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school to be built off of New Haven Road in Prospect.
During a special meeting Monday night, the board voted, 4-2, to name the school Prospect Elementary School.
Board members Wendy Oliveira and Robin Wright voted against the name. Board Chair Priscilla Cretella and board member Sheryl Feducia weren’t at the meeting.
The name was selected out of three names submitted by the naming committee. The other two suggestions for consideration were Hillcrest Elementary School and White Oak Elementary School.
The board could have added two more of its own names, but when the floor was open to board members to make suggestions none were made.
The new school is the largest part of a three-pronged school building project in the region, which also includes renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls and a new district office.
A controversy over the idea of naming the school Chatfield Elementary School, which was suggested as an honor to longtime Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield, followed the vote in February.
The naming of the school after a person led to a public outcry from residents. The region oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospects and residents from both towns spoke against using a proper name for a region school.
Chatfield subsequently requested the naming committee remove his name from consideration.
After Prospect Elementary School was approved, Oliveira said naming a school after one town in the region isn’t fair to both towns.
“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
Before the meeting adjourned, board member Robert Hiscox made a motion for the board to send a letter of apology to Chatfield. Hiscox felt the board’s actions earlier this year created emotional turmoil for Chatfield and his family.
Wright said the board can’t control how the public will react to its decisions.
“We didn’t intend for anything to happen,” she said.
Board member William Fredericks said sending a letter is a nice thought, but added all the board did was act on the naming committee’s suggestion when it chose Chatfield Elementary School.
“I’m sorry it turned out the way it did,” Fredericks said. “It’s a name. There’s a lot of things in the world more important than a name.”
The motion was rejected, 4-2, with only Hiscox and board member Nazih Noujaim voting in favor of it.