At Wednesday evening’s Board of Education meeting, the board members voted to reappoint superintendent Dr. Kevin Smith and assistant superintendent Dr. Chuck Smith to their positions.
Maria Coleman was reappointed as director of human resources and administration as well.
Chairman Bruce Likly made the motions for the reappointments “with gusto,” and all three motions were approved by the board unanimously (although BoE member Chris Stroup was not in attendance).
Miller-Driscoll Name Change
The Board of Education also addressed the proposal raised by two board members to rename Miller-Driscoll School to coincide with the completion of renovations there.
“I applaud both of those board members for having the foresight to take advantage of an opportunity and think outside the box,” Likly said. He referenced the GOOD Morning Wilton article and reader survey–which reflected a majority (77.5%) of readers who prefer to keep the name as Miller-Driscoll–and noted, “we’re all aware of what that feedback was.”
Board members Lory Rothstein and Laura Schwemm both spoke in favor of the name change.
Rothstein said, “I absolutely respect the history of our town and our schools. My main reason for [proposing] a change has to do with the social and emotional development of our youngest students. I believe a strong connection with the school they attend, which is built on school spirit and values, is important for students. A name that is grade level appropriate and allows the school to creatively play off the name can foster a strong sense of connection.”
Schwemm noted that she grew up in Wilton, attending Wilton public schools from kindergarten through high school. In fact, she said, she went to Driscoll school, and was known as “the Driscoll girl that married a Miller boy,” to chuckles from the board.
She followed that with her support of a name change, noting that several other Wilton schools have had name changes in the past. She referenced the “transformative change” when Middle School West (previously Wilton Junior High School and Wilton Junior-Senior High School) was renovated to become Cider Mill in 2000, which incorporated the long-closed single room school house names into its four houses. “It’s another way to bring back our history. We’re a vibrant community and will always honor our history; we have a never-flagging commitment to excellence in our community and our schools.”
However, Schwemm said the school is larger than the pieces of Miller and Driscoll.
“We’re in a great position, we’re opening a brand new grade school, basically, built with the pieces of Miller and Driscoll schools. This school is a living monument to Wilton’s commitment to public education and to future Wilton children. It is greater than the pieces of Miller and Driscoll schools and Wilton should honor it with a new name.”
Chris Finkelstein spoke in opposition to the name change.
“The fact that 40-50 years ago, the fact that people sitting in these seats chose to name that building after Miller and Driscoll, we have to respect that. We can’t say we know better than they do or say, ‘times have changed.’ It’s history, we can’t wash it away because we’ve changed our minds about what they did back then. I know it’s just the name of a building, but to those people who made that decision, and the individuals who were honored, we owe it to the history of our town to continue honoring those individuals.”
Likly noted that the board had received direct email feedback, including one person who pointed out the cost of creating new letterhead, stationery and signage associated with a name change. He decided to have the board move on to other issues.
“It does not appear that we have strong consensus one way or another, so it would be my feeling, as board chair and picking the agenda, that we not put this on as a decision to explore a name change at this time,” he said. “I believe we have more important tasks ahead of us as we look to improve our curriculum and other aspects of our district.”