Tyler ISD board discusses costs of, opinions on name change for high schools

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tyler ISD is reviewing how much it would cost to change the names of Robert E. Lee and John Tyler High Schools.

Trustees requested the issue be put on the agenda for a board workshop held on May 14.

"This is probably going to be the most divisive issue that this district and this community will have to deal with," says Trustee Andy Bergfeld.

Months after residents requested a name change for Robert E. Lee High School, board members today discussed what it would cost.

If done all at once and before October, replacing all branded materials would cost close to $800,000, but if the decision is made too late into construction, the cost could be over $1,000,000.

"By asking for the results of research, we're not at this time confirming to do so," says Trustee Patricia Nation. "We're charged with examining all costs, financial and otherwise.

In the summer of 2017, some Tyler residents began to push for the renaming of Robert E. Lee and John Tyler due to the racial sensitivity of them being named after a confederate general and former president with confederate ties.

Board Vice President Wade Washmon asked whether the change was the right way to spend funds, asking, "is it worth the amount of money it would take to do something that will not fundamentally impact student outcomes in a positive way?"

Trustee Aaron D. Martinez argued that it may be worth it.

"We have an opportunity to show the community that we're all inclusive," Martinez says.

Trustee Orenthia Mason suggested that a public survey be conducted to include the thoughts of current residents and TISD alumni.

The trustees did not decide what their next steps on the issue will be. This was a discussion item only, so no action was taken.

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