Over the last few weeks, the Board of Education has received letters and a petition regarding the selection of the name for the new K-12 school in Ashcroft: “Desert Sands Community School”. Many of these letters have also been reprinted in The Ashcroft‑Cache Creek Journal. While the Board has been replying to the individuals who have sent letters and delivered the petition, we feel it is also appropriate to provide information to the readers of The Journal.
When the difficult decision was made to close Ashcroft Elementary and renovate Ashcroft Secondary to a K-12 school, the District proceeded with the required preparations and renovations to ensure the school would be ready for students and staff in Sept. 2015. One of the important tasks to consider was the renaming of the new school. Staff members of Ashcroft Elementary and Secondary schools developed a process to gather suggestions and feedback from interested individuals. The process was discussed at PAC meetings, distributed to families through school newsletters, shared with students and local Band Education Coordinators, and advertised on the school Facebook pages. Of note are the more than one thousand individuals who saw the process as outlined on the Facebook pages. Individuals were invited to submit names via a web-based process and also in paper form at Ashcroft Secondary and Elementary schools. Following the submission of names, school staff reviewed the suggestions and selected six names they felt represented a cross-section of the types of names submitted. The names were then provided for individuals to vote on. The school naming process stated that the Board would receive two to three names to vote on. It did not state that the Board would accept the name with the most votes.
At the Open Board meeting at Ashcroft Secondary on June 2, the Board debated the suggested names. At an open forum where any individual in the audience could speak, the Board heard from a member of the public that their preference was for the Board to select a name that reflected the school’s student population. Students are not all from Ashcroft, but also live in communities in the surrounding area. The member of the public noted that when the school teams travel, many students on the teams comment that their home communities are not acknowledged in the cheers. There were other Ashcroft community members in the audience, including members of the Village of Ashcroft council. No other individuals addressed the Board on this topic. The Board considered all information and feedback provided to them when debating and deciding the new name. Following a lengthy discussion, the Board approved the name “Desert Sands Community School”, which they felt reflected the many communities the K-12 school serves.
The Board has heard from individuals who feel the process was not fair or open. That is unfortunate. Over fifty (50) names were submitted as part of the naming process. When those names were reduced to six, one of the six names contained “Ashcroft” in the title. While 136 individuals (or 40.7%) voted for Ashcroft Community School, 198 individuals (or 59.3%) voted for names that did not contain Ashcroft. The Board believes the naming process was transparent, fair, and reflective of the input received.
The Board appreciates the interest and passion shown for the naming of the new K-12 school. A school truly is a reflection of the communities it serves. We believe our new school will be an outstanding facility that students, staff, parents, and community members from Ashcroft and the surrounding communities will be proud of. We invite you to visit the school in September and join us in celebrating our new school.
Valerie Adrian, Xwisten (Bridge River)
Carmen Ranta, Cache Creek
Co-Chairs, SD #74 Board of Education