Thursday, June 30, 2005

What's In A Name?

What's in a name? Apparently, a whole lot of money when it comes to naming schools and other facilities in some districts around the country. It seems like this is a new trend:

A suburban Detroit school district has decided to sell naming rights to buildings and athletics facilities.

The Board of Education for Plymouth-Canton schools unanimously decided Tuesday night to allow the district to sell the rights.

A growing number of districts are establishing similar policies that allow for naming football stadiums, soccer fields and schools after corporate donors.

In approving the new policy, Plymouth-Canton board members said the state isn't providing enough revenue for the district.

"As long as (lawmakers) ... break their promise to provide adequate funding for schools, schools are going to have to ... look for additional sources of revenue," said board President Mark Slavens.

Parent Dianne Gonzalez said the district can't afford to turn down money. "We're to the point now where we just need money." Naming a new elementary school could cover up to 51% of its costs, officials said.

The district could create hyphenated names for schools, which may include a school name with a mention of a corporate sponsor.

"You're not going to see a 'Pepsi Elementary' or 'SBC Elementary,'" said board member Richard Ham-Kucharski. "You may see 'Dodson Elementary, presented by SBC.'"

I have mixed feelings about this. I realize that schools are more cash-strapped than ever, and by selling "naming rights," a school district may obtain a quick infusion of cash almost painlessly. On the other hand, some things just shouldn't be for sale. If we start selling even our schools' names to the highest bidder, what example does that set to the community? Would some infer that if this aspect of education is "for sale," what aspect isn't?

But then again, there is that prospect of having building costs "picked up" by the private sector and not by the taxpayer. It's a very enticing proposal.

But then again, are we really ready to accept something like "Stanford University presented by Colgate-Palmolive?"

Food for thought...

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