FARMINGTON — South Clearfield Elementary will be keeping its name for the foreseeable future.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Davis School District Board of Education declined Clearfield City Council’s request to change the school’s name. Clearfield requested the change because the school is no longer located in south Clearfield, said Trevor Cahoon, the city’s spokesman.
“(The school is) in the middle of our city, and not even in the south part of Clearfield,” Cahoon said, “so it’s just a little silly to us that it’s named that.”
There are also no other elementary schools in Clearfield that have directional names, he said.
The board did not vote on the issue, but after discussion, no board member requested to put the question on the agenda of the board’s February meeting, where it would go to a board vote.
The majority of board members had reservations about renaming the school. Gordon Eckersley was among those with concerns, but he and board member Brigit Gerrard said they’d like to gather more community input.
Board President John Robison was concerned about the precedent it would set to rename the school, creating the opening for any group to request a name change, which is the responsibility only of the school board, he said.
“My feeling about this is that it not even be entertained,” Robison said. “ ... I think the vote that we would take, if a vote were taken, would be that we are going to rename the school, and then we start the process of community input and ... the protocol that we follow.”
The two board members representing that area of Clearfield, Marie Stevenson and Cheryl Phipps, have received quite different responses from their constituents.
“I’ve heard from teachers and past alumni in the negative,” Stevenson said. “One of the teachers there ... a good friend of mine, she also expressed, ‘Please don’t change the name of this school. This is what our kids know the school as — this is where we go.’”
Alumni in her area also told her they didn’t want the name changed, though Stevenson said she could understand Clearfield City Council’s reasoning in wanting to change the name.
Board member Cheryl Phipps, who also represents a portion of the Clearfield area, said she would be the minority voice on the board.
“I have lived in Clearfield for 34 years,” Phipps said. “ ... I think that this comes from a lot of talk through a lot of years. This started way before South Clearfield was being rebuilt — that South Clearfield is not in the south of Clearfield any longer. It’s almost center of Clearfield, and the way the city is growing is to the south.”
Phipps said the name of the school causes confusion for community members and that the issue is part of larger a struggle in Clearfield to build a sense of shared community.
“I also really believe strongly in that idea of our schools feeling like a part of a community ... where the community has a buy-in and feels that this represents Clearfield as well, and I’m glad that they’re caring,” Phipps said.
Referring to a letter sent to the school board by the Clearfield City Council, Phipps said that the city council has indicated a willingness to gather community input, and they are not proposing a name, just requesting a change.
Davis Superintendent Reid Newey said a change could cause significant administrative work, since records pertaining to the school would be under the school’s former name.
Robison and Gerrard also pointed out that other schools in the district no longer represent their areas, such as South Davis, Central Davis and North Layton junior high schools.
Clearfield will continue to work with the district on a potential name change, Cahoon said, but if the district ultimately decides against it, the city will not push the issue.
“It’s not something to burn bridges over,” Cahoon said.
At the same meeting, the school board learned the three names being proposed for the new elementary school being built in west Layton.
From most popular to least popular among the affected community, the names are Sunburst (the name of the school’s street), West Layton and Harmony, Newey said.
The district is planning to bring a “first and final” recommendation for the Layton school’s name to the board’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 4, Newey said.