Caleb Stewart, WHSV-TV, November 12, 2018
Following years of debate that culminated in a Staunton School Board vote to rename Robert E. Lee High School and then a public survey that drew over 4,000 submissions for a new name for the school, Staunton leaders have announced that the school will return to its original name of Staunton High School.
The school bore the name of its city until 1914, when the school board at that time voted to rename it in honor of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Earlier this year, following May elections in which four new members were elected to the board, including one by a margin of just two votes, the board voted 4-2 to rename the school.
It also follows other schools moving to rebrand themselves, such as Richmond Public Schools voting to rename J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary School. The school boards in Falls Church and Petersburg also are renaming several Confederate-named schools.
Following the vote to rename, the school board launched a public survey on the school board website where people could choose from five names suggested by the school board or provide their own suggestion.
The school board reviewed and discussed the results in a work session on Friday, November 2, and then took a vote in their meeting on Monday, November 12.
There, members unanimously agreed to name the school, which was already slated to undergo significant renovations in the next year, “Staunton High School.
The name change will take effect on July 1, 2019.
The school board has previously addressed questions about the costs associated with renaming the school, saying it’s safe to estimate $200,000 would be needed to replace athletic gear with the school’s branding, but that that amount represents less than one percent of the school division’s operating budget of $31.8 million. Many of the costs are expected to be absorbed as part of the city’s already-existing plans for renovations to the school in 2019.