School board overturns decision on new elementary name after public opposition

JASPER, IN (WFIE) - A school board's decision overturned in Dubois County Tuesday night.

Jasper Consolidated School Board members held a special called meeting inside Jasper High School, where dozens of community members showed up to voice their opinions on the new elementary school.

Board members had voted last week to name the new school "Wilson Elementary," the name stemming from a pair of siblings, George and Margaret Wilson, who local historians say were influential on public education in the county well over a century ago.

"I felt like I didn't have any input," one former Ireland Elementary teacher voiced to the panel. "You have all these meetings, and it's like, wham, here's the name. I felt cheated, I felt disappointed."

The problem-- many community members said school officials didn't seek enough public feedback before narrowing down the naming options. Several board members during the meeting claimed the backlash they received over the last week was overwhelming.

"My husband and several of my family members went into town and were bombarded," JCSB Member April Jackle passionately stated to the crowd. "I received a phone call from a Vincennes person making fun of us. I'm embarrassed. I'm shocked."

"What are we going to do when, or if we grow? Probably not in my lifetime, but when we have to build a second elementary? What are we gonna call it, number two?" Another school board member, Ken Scenaus told the room.

After many teachers and parents not only verbally opposed the "Wilson" name, but also how the board went about its decision. 
Many taxpayers telling us, the new school will ultimately cost them all $30 million, and they would have preferred more of a say in the name before the board's first vote.
The panel finally voted 5-0 to name the new school "Jasper Elementary" after over an hour discussion.

"The people have spoken. It really is about we the people, for the people," said Tom Vogler, who attended the meeting.

"I'm very happy about this decision," said local Spanish Teacher Brehan Leinenbach. "I feel that the board did a nice job getting everybody's opinion into consideration. It's a shame that it wasn't done in the first place. But overall this was wonderful tonight, great win. A win for the Jasper Community."

Jasper Elementary will combine Fifth Street and Tenth Street School students in 2020.

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