Just before last week’s Buford Middle School groundbreaking ceremony signifying its long-awaited reconstruction, Charlottesville City Schools presented another possible change: the school’s name.
Superintendent Royal Gurley proposed renaming Buford Middle School to Charlottesville Middle School. Charlottesville schools originally planned to review the school’s name during the 2023-2024 school year, but pushed it up to coincide with the construction.
“We’ve been working through the process. There’s one middle school and one high school here,” said Gurley. “For me, calling it Charlottesville Middle School allows the connection to continue to the high school.”
Buford Middle School is named after Florence De Launey Buford, a Charlottesville educator. The namesake started as a history teacher at the all-white Lane High School in 1927, and later became the first principal of George Rogers Clark School (now Summit Elementary School) in 1931.
The School Board will vote on the name change at its June 27 meeting.
The middle school “is a place of inclusion, it’s a stopping point before high school,” said Gurley. “It’s an inclusive name that reflects our community.”
More about renaming places in Charlottesville
The decision to change the name comes in the middle of an ongoing series of name reconsiderations within the school system. If the School Board accepts the superintendent’s recommendation, it will bypass the school district’s renaming process, which allows for community discussion and student input.
Originally, City Schools planned to go through all the elementary schools before hitting the secondary schools. But with the construction of Buford commencing this month, Gurley thought it would be best to vote on a new name sooner.
City Schools has yet to decide on names for Burnley-Moran and Johnson elementary schools since it began reviewing those in early March. The board decided to pause the vote of the two elementary schools after not having a consensus on new names. However, the board did vote to change the name of the schools regardless to avoid maintaining a namesake of a person.
The board is seeking the help of Insight Education Group, an education-focused consulting firm, and other area experts to find potential names for the elementary schools.
The Naming of Facilities Committee — the group that leads the name reconsiderations — will meet throughout the summer to find names to present to the School Board, said Beth Baptist, head of the committee.
“The process is important and we are continuing but don’t want to rush to recommend a name until we believe the name is a great fit for each school which includes looking at purpose and place,” said Baptist.
The Buford vote does not impact Burnley-Moran and Johnson’s decision, said both Gurley and Baptist.
The $96 million project secured all its funding after Charlottesville City Council allocated $78.4 million to the middle school. Shortly after the decision, the school system gained an additional $17.6 million in funding from the Virginia Department of Education’s Construction Assistance Program.
Buford is set to begin construction for its long-awaited reconfiguration project later this month. The middle school waited years before securing funding to revamp its existing buildings and construct additions, such as a performing arts center, an outdoor classroom and a schoolyard garden.