Newport News School Board unanimously approves to rename four schools

Newport News

Empty classroom (Getty)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Newport News School Board unanimously approved the renaming of four schools at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The board voted on the following proposals from Superintendent Dr. George Parker III:

  • Epes Elementary School to be renamed Stoney Run Elementary School
  • Lee Hall Elementary School to be renamed Katherine Johnson Elementary School
  • Nelson Elementary School to be renamed Knollwood Meadows Elementary School
  • Dozier Middle School to be renamed Ella Fitzgerald Middle School

The community was asked to submit new names to a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that was assigned to the renaming process. The task force submitted its top three recommendations to the superintendent who presented his recommendations Tuesday night.

Stoney Run and Knollwood Meadows are named after the communities that they are located in, while the other two are named after influential women in the community.

Katherine Johnson Elementary School is named after the African American mathematician who was known for her work with NASA. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical in the launch of the first U.S. crewed spaceflights. She worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton for 33 years.

Ella Fitzgerald Middle School, meanwhile, is named after the 13 time Grammy wining jazz singer from Newport News. She sold over 40 million albums and was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The process to change the names will be done in phases. The process is expected to begin before the next school year.

First, Newport News Public Schools will replace outside signage and names on the buildings. Over time, the schools will also have the name changes reflected inside the building.

School division officials expect the process to cost about $375,000.

Here’s the breakdown:

Signage (on the building, the marquee, and throughout the building)

  • Elementary $100K per school
  • Middle $150K per school
  • Stationery and Banners $1-2K per school
  • Library books relabeled $3K per school

Cafeteria (for the schools that have been updated with school names on tables and wall murals)

  • Epes Elementary $46K
  • Dozier Middle $75K

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