FREEPORT — The name of Freeport High School may be changed to reflect its status as a regional school.
The Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors was scheduled to hold a question-and-answer session about the idea Nov. 9, before its regular meeting. If a new name is chosen, it will take effect when renovations at the high school are complete.
Superintendent Becky Foley said the idea of changing the name was first discussed when the RSU was formed in 2009, but no action was taken. She said it’s being discussed again because when the high school is renovated, a new sign will be placed on the building.
A $14.6 million bond to renovate the high school was approved by voters in November 2013. The renovation is expected to be completed by fall 2017.
Foley said some board members thought it would be a good time to explore whether the name should be changed before money is spent on a sign that says “Freeport High School.” According to Foley, some residents in RSU 5 have wanted to see the name changed for some time.
“I think some people think it’s not inclusive enough,” she said. “It’s not a name that encompasses all three towns. Some people argue that students from Durham and Pownal don’t really feel like it’s their school.”
According to Ginny McManus, assistant to the superintendent, this year the high school population includes 319 students from Freeport, 146 from Durham, and 48 from Pownal.
The RSU 5 board has created a survey, which is available on the district’s website, to get input about the name change. All surveys are due back to the RSU by Nov. 25.
“The board will ultimately decide, but the survey will hold a lot of weight in their decision-making,” Foley said.
Foley said she has received 15 emails over the past couple of weeks in which people have shared their opinions on changing the high school’s name. She said it’s been “about 50/50 on each side” of the issue.
People who don’t want the name to change have said there’s a pride that exists in the current name, Foley said. Also, if the name changes, it may be harder for people outside of the community to distinguish where the school is located.
“It’s easily identifiable where Freeport High School is geographically,” Foley said.
The board doesn’t have a list of potential names, Foley said, but community members have made suggestions such as Harraseeket High School, because of the nearby Harraseeket River, and Falcon Regional High School, because of the school’s mascot.
“If we decide to do a renaming, we’ll be very thorough in discussing possibilities,” Foley said.
The board will meet Dec. 14 to review the survey results and decide whether they’d like to continue discussing a possible name change. Foley said the board hopes to make a decision only on whether to change the name by spring.
If the board decides to move forward with the idea, the hope is to choose a new name before the school year ends.