The Charlottesville City Schools Naming of Facilities Committee has decided that Burnley-Moran and Johnson elementary schools should get new names.

The committee, a group that oversees the school renaming process, will suggest the School Board choose between Blue Mountain and Rivanna for Burnley-Moran, and Cherry Avenue and Forest Hills for Johnson. 

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The committee selected the names after collecting input from the community, according to a City Schools news release. Those who submitted comments, the statement said, supported changing the names of the two elementary schools. 

Burnley-Moran and Johnson are named after prominent white educators who aided in the advancement of white education in the city during segregation, according to research into the namesake of all Charlottesville schools compiled by Phil Varner, a local historian. Sarepta Moran and Carrie Burnley were the first woman principals in the school system due to their service to white children. Both were also active members of the Daughters of the Confederacy. James G. Johnson, a former superintendent, oversaw the school division during a time when white students received the bulk of school division funding.

“The public feedback and the committee’s decision recognized that, regardless of the accomplishment or merit of these individuals, these schools’ names commemorate an era of segregated education that no longer reflects the division’s values,” City Schools said in a previous statement.

The names might be presented as early as the March Charlottesville School Board meeting. Voting may happen the same night, but could be pushed back to a later meeting, according to a City Schools spokesperson.

Before the final presentation, the committee will seek additional remarks from the staff of each school. The committee has already held an online forum with members of the community and polled the school’s third and fourth-graders. For Johnson, the committee reached out to the families and students who were among the first class of Black kids to desegregate the school in 1962.

The committee decided to focus on names that mirror values or geographical aspects to avoid another potential name change in the future.

Burnley-Moran and Johnson Elementary are the third and fourth schools to undergo the renaming suggestion process within City Schools. During the last renaming process in December, the school division voted to rename Clark and Venable elementary schools Summit and Trailblazers, respectively.

That process was a bit sticky. The committee solicited input from community members and students at both schools. The majority of students at Clark voted to rename their school Friendship. The School Board went with Summit.

After the vote, some students and families who offered input were puzzled about whether their say was final or suggestive. District officials have since clarified that, while community say is important and is considered when finding names, in the end, only the school board can confirm a new name for the school.

The next School Board meeting will be held on March 2 at 5:00 p.m. at Charlottesville High School.

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