Morris High School board discusses name change

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MORRIS – The Morris District 101 School Board met Monday night. Although there were a number of items on the agenda, one took on major significance after the announcement earlier that day that the Washington NFL franchise would rename its football team from the Redskins to something else.

Morris, of course, has the nickname and mascot Redskins, along with four other high schools in Illinois – Momence, Nokomis, Sullivan and Wolf Lake (Shawnee).

District 101 Superintendent Craig Ortiz said the school board discussed changing the school’s nickname, noting that this is not the first time the subject has come up.

“As you know, we have been getting pressure over the years to change our mascot,” he said. “It’s been a topic that comes up fairly frequently. Obviously, it has a lot of increased attention right now, so we did have some comments sent in from the public that were read at the meeting about the need to change [the mascot] and the idea that it’s viewed as a racial slur.

“The board heard those comments and indicated they would like to explore the process. They haven’t made any formal decisions yet. They do want to take the time to explore what the process involves. This is not going to be a low-cost change. What will we have to do with flooring, signage, uniforms? How much time might that take? And we also want to reach out to some other districts that have done this recently. There are other schools that are in the thick of it now, and we will try to learn from that. What did they do right? What might they have overlooked? We want to know these things so that it’s a thoughtful process for us.”

Ortiz, an MCHS graduate, said he has received a lot of support for discussing the change.

“I have gotten a number of emails from former students that are supportive of the change,” he said. “I also want to applaud the school board for wanting to have this discussion. It’s not set in stone that we are going to change, but I do think that we have to look at how the rest of the world sees us.

“Even if we change, the motto ‘Redskin Pride Never Dies’ will just have the first word changed. The sentiment will still be there. There will be pride in coming from the school no matter what the name is. It was time for us to have this discussion, and no matter what the name is, we will still have great teams and programs.”

He went on to say that the cost of changing the nickname and mascot will be a factor.

“It will probably be in the tens of thousands of dollars,” he said. “I went around the school, and there are some signs that will have to be taken down and some painting to do. We would have to redo the gym floor, but the name Redskins is not anywhere on our new stadium field or on our new scoreboards.”

Ortiz said the top priority for the school board has been to open the school, and the district on Tuesday released its plan to open in the fall (see page 4).

The board also established a budget hearing date of Sept. 14, revised the fiscal 2021 calendar and Nov. 3 Election Day holiday, received the authorization to fill open positions, approved the 2020-23 strategic plan and mission/values statement, approved an intergovernmental agreement for librarian services, approved a resolution appointing Amy Harris as Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund authorized agent, and approved the employment of Courtney Joyce as a long-term substitute for social science.

26-Delivered

via | The Herald-News

July 19, 2020 at 09:47PM

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