North Thurston must change its name

May 11th, 2016 by Ken

The North Thurston School Board is considering changing the name of the school district and Thursday evening at Chinook Middle School, dozens of residents will present a petition signed by nearly a thousand others – – in opposition to any name change for the district.

The passion of these name supporters is commendable.   It isn’t often a government agency can generate public concern of this magnitude.

Supporters of keeping the North Thurston name – – many of them former teachers and employees of the district – – are full of nostalgia for a school system they supported for decades.   Changing the name  – – for them – – implies that the school board does not value the years they put into making the North Thurston district one of the best in the state.

Nothing could be further from the truth.   It is dedicated employees which make a district a success.

When the North Thurston name was adopted in 1953 it represented the community.  But, over the last 50 years, as Lacey incorporated and grew, the name no longer reflected the community the school district served.  Lacey is now a city of 50,000 and in 20 years when it has annexed all of the property in its urban growth area, it will be nearly 100,000 souls.  (It will annex all of that property.   It’s a legal requirement.)

Nearly all of the school buildings in the district 20 out of 21 are in the City of Lacey or in the city’s urban growth area.

For decades, supporters of North Thurston schools have looked towards Olympia and marveled at how that school district was able to pass its levies and bonds with over-whelming support.   Olympia often bragged that its population was better educated and  better versed in the needs for school support.

That’s nonsense.   The reason that Olympia continues to gain support from its residents – is that Olympia residents relate to the Olympia School District.    it’s that simple.

School districts do not operate in a vacuum.  North Thurston has always had the support of its employees and of the parents who have children in the district.   But, it hasn’t always had support from those who have no children in the schools, or from those who don’t understand why they have to support North Thurston schools when they live in Lacey.

North Thurston is a name of the past.  It’s a fine name and will continue.   North Thurston High School will always remain North Thurston High School, and the Lacey Museum has a display of all the historical schools in our community.

But, the name North Thurston is no longer relevant to the future and to the thousands of new residents who have no commitment to the district.

If North Thurston Public Schools (the official name) is going to continue to be a leader in quality education – it has to change its name and embrace the entire Lacey community.

Posted in Government, History, Informational, Local Politics, The Real News

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