Tyler ISD likely will hold off on making a decision about the name of its high schools.
Residents have continued discussing the fate of the name of Robert E. Lee High School in the months since an August meeting that saw more than 40 people go before the board to signal their support for each side of the argument.
Board of Trustees President Fritz Hager said while board members can request a discussion or decision be put on the agenda for upcoming meetings, his preference would be waiting until summer so the board can focus on academics and decisions needed to keep construction moving at both high schools. The matter is not on the agenda for the board’s January meeting scheduled for Monday, Jan. 22.
In addition to the largest construction project in the history of the district, they also are in the middle of major academic changes, such as zoning changes for the high schools and a total redesign of the district’s middle school programs. Those plans are expected to be reviewed in February for a fall implementation.
“We have a full spring ahead of us and, personally, I support taking up the naming issue in the summer, as was previously suggested in our last public discussion on the issue,” Hager said. “This would give us plenty of time to deliberate without impacting the construction process or distracting from teaching and learning. However, our board policy allows any board member to request an agenda item prior to that time."
There also is a board of trustees election for two members on May 5.
Place 5 trustee Aaron Martinez already has filed for re-election and Place 7 trustee Andy Bergfeld said he intends to as well.
With construction underway at both high schools, a decision to change the name of Robert E. Lee or John Tyler would need to be made before ordering signage for the buildings.
Hager said he hopes the decision can be made before fall.
The cost of a name change, if decided upon by the board, would be minimal as both the high schools and Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium are undergoing renovations. Uniform costs also would be minimal, since they are replaced regularly.
Hager said that regardless of any name changes, he hopes the district can incorporate memorial space on each campus to celebrate the history of the schools. Space for veterans memorials already has been planned, as well as space for memorabilia.
The board also is in the midst of making decisions on final blueprints and pricing for the new facilities.
Guaranteed maximum prices are expected to be presented to the board in March and April, at which point construction would begin on the multistory portions of the projects, according to facilities director Tim Loper.
Construction crews already are doing sitework in preparation for the builds.