SOUTHINGTON – While a school board subcommittee recommended renaming South End School after a notable educator, the board decided last week to change Plantsville School’s name instead.
Plantsville became Zaya Oshana Elementary School after a 7-to-1 Board of Education vote last week.
Terri Carmody, board vice chairwoman and leader of the subcommittee charged with considering a name change, was the lone vote against the plan. She argued for her subcommittee’s recommendation to rename South End School.
The subcommittee included Carmody and board members Patricia Queen and Lisa Cammuso.
Brian Goralski, board chairman, was joined by other board members in voting for Plantsville.
A group of local residents petitioned the board to name a school after Oshana, the town’s longest-serving board member. That group will pay to change signage and make any other adjustments as a result of the new name.
Parents from the three elementary schools under consideration for a name change spoke at a board meeting, most opposing any change. Plantsville, South End and Flanders were considered. Flanders was rejected since its future is uncertain in redistricting plans under consideration.
Plantsville parents argued that the school is named after the Plant brothers, who helped found that section of town. Residents of the village were also worried about losing the section of town’s identity and history by renaming the school.
Carmody agreed, saying that the modern South End School could be renamed and the original name preserved by the original historic schoolhouse nearby.
“We felt it was a section of town named for the village,” she said of Plantsville. “South End had the old schoolhouse.”
Goralski said he never supported renaming South End. At the end of last week’s meeting, the board voted to formally confirm the South End name which makes changing it more difficult in the future.
Parents from that school spoke against renaming it during previous board deliberations on naming schools.
“The parents have been consistent in regards to that school,” Goralski said.
He understood the opposition to renaming a school and envisioned it as a slow transition. PTO leaders had told the board a name change would make t-shirts and other merchandise outdated but Goralski thought old items would still have value to families who remembered the former name.
“Change is hard for everybody,” he said. “I expect parents to be unhappy with change, because nobody likes change.”
Goralski attended Central Elementary School before it was renamed Derynoski Elementary School.
“I still say Central Elementary sometimes,” he said.
Oshana’s son, Zaya Oshana Jr., is on the board and recused himself from the vote last week.