What’s in a name? Officials for Otsego E-8 building start process to answer that question

by Rachel Minske
Contributing Writer
A timeline for naming the school being built in Otsego that will serve early education through eighth-grade students has been established.

The newly named principal of the school, Kari Sampson, said a committee will determine name possibilities for the new school using input from local Otsego government, district staff, parents and enrolled students.

“The committee will help determine criteria for the name,” Sampson said.

A name recommendation will be shared with the School Board at the end of March and the final name for the building – commonly referred to as the E-8 building currently – is scheduled for approval in April, Sampson told the board Jan. 23.

New leadership takes over
The building is slated to open for the start of the 2017-18 school year and a walk-through of the new building with hard hats was scheduled for Jan. 25.

Sampson will leave her post as principal for Zimmerman’s Westwood Elementary School to take on the job at the new school. She has worked in the district for more than a decade.

Erin Talley, former Otsego principal and director of teaching and learning, will return to the district to lead Westwood through the remainder of the 2016-2017 academic year. The search to find a permanent replacement at Westwood will begin in March.

Proposed changes to naming policy
Sampson said the committee will use the district’s policy for the naming of facilities and fields – and its accompanying proposed revisions – as a guiding document.

The revised policy includes a number of proposed adjustments, including language changes, the addition of a one-year waiting period in the selection process and the ability for the School Board to appoint an ad hoc advisory committee of relevant stakeholders to consider names for auditoriums, nature spaces, fields and other shared spaces.

The revised policy was crafted by Superintendent Bruce Watkins and Director Gregg Peppin.

Under the policy, criteria for name consideration includes residents who have gained local or national prominence and for whom one year has passed since the date for which they have gained prominence; the historic or current name of the geographic area; and former employees who have served with distinction and for whom one year has passed since their last day of employment with the district.

Peppin said he appreciated Sampson adhering to the proposed policy.

The School Board will vote on the proposed changes Jan. 30.

Parents can expect information online
Sampson said the school is gearing up for its grand opening and local families can expect a large digital footprint.

Parents and students can soon expect a new website and the launch of a Twitter account after Feb. 7.

Additionally, the school will use e-blasts for parents of students.