Tyler ISD board president amends statement about cost of high school name change

Tyler ISD board president amends statement about cost of high school name change
The meeting held in the summer of 2016 was well-attended by vocal citizens. (Source: KLTV News Staff)

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The president of the school board trustees has attempted to clarify or update his previous statements about the cost of changing the name of one of Tyler ISD's high schools.

Reverend Fritz Hager, Jr. released a statement on Tuesday stating that a public meeting will be held in June to discuss the timing and potential costs of changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School.

"Earlier this month, two trustees co-submitted a request for an agenda item related to changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School for our regular May meeting," Board President Fritz Hager, Jr. said in the statement.  "Per our board policy, I exercised my authority to delay the item until after school ended and graduation was complete. Accordingly, the item is currently scheduled for our June 7 meeting."

If done all at once and before October, replacing all branded materials could cost close to $800,000, but if the decision is made too late into construction, the cost for rebranding could be over $1,000,000.  Those numbers were estimates made by board members during a May 14 workshop as they heard from different faculty or staff members whose departments would be affected by a name change, such as athletics.

On Wednesday, Hager released the following additional statement regarding the possible costs.

The Tyler ISD Board of Trustees takes seriously the responsibility of stewarding taxpayer funds.  This is why I requested the agenda item to determine what the actual conversion costs would be prior to the board considering a possible name change.  The request was meant to contrast the difference in cost if phased in during construction or done at some future point after construction is complete, which has not been accurately reported.  Regardless, the costs for the phased in change were significantly higher than I expected and I’ve asked for additional information from the district to determine if there is a more cost effective way to phase in a potential change, should the board opt to make one. 
If ultimately approved, these funds would come from our fund balance and would compete against other special projects that could benefit the students of Tyler ISD, so cost is an important consideration.  While there have been several misleading reports about the magnitude of the cost, the costs presented by the district would significantly impact my support for any future name-change after this renovation window closes.

The next meeting will be held on June 7. The public will be allowed to comment during this meeting.

We will continue to follow this story and update regarding times of meetings and the outcomes of those meetings.

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