After a brief discussion and some dissent, the Bend-La Pine School Board voted 5-1 Tuesday evening to name its newest elementary North Star.

The two other finalists would have honored individuals — Ruth Reid, one of Bend-La Pine’s earliest educators, and Florence Drake, one of Bend’s founders. But some board members argued that it was hard to name a school after a person when there are so many worthy local educators.

“I wish we could honor them all, and we don’t have enough schools to honor them all,” said board member Ron Gallinat. “I’m still inclined to not using a (person’s) name at this point, and finding other ways to honor the people.”

Fellow board member Julie Craig voted for North Star, in part because naming a building after a person can bring unforeseen problems later on, she said. People sometimes do not turn out to be “the way we want them to be,” she said.

Craig said she had gone back and forth choosing between North Star and Reid, but definitely did not favor Drake because there are plenty of buildings that bear that family name.

Board member Stuart Young said he felt the name North Star was “visionary for the future.”

The lone dissenting vote was Peggy Kinkade, who lamented that there weren’t many local schools named after women. Board members Carrie Douglass and Andy High said they agreed with that sentiment, but both wound up casting their votes for North Star.

In December, a school district committee presented the board with three final options for the new elementary school’s name, drawing in part from hundreds of public suggestions. The most popular suggestion was Arlie Seems Elementary, named after a lifelong Bend resident and longtime elementary teacher at Jewell, Buckingham and Kenwood schools who died in 2013. Seems’ daughter and others expressed their frustration in January that Seems’ name was not chosen as one of the final options.

Kinkade brought up Seems during her statement Tuesday. She said she could think of a few other worthy local educators to name a building after as well, and said that Seems already had a field named in his honor.

“At some point, maybe one will be memorialized by a school name, but it’s difficult to say one of these, or perhaps countless other outstanding, contemporary educators, is more deserving than another,” she said.

She also said the district should consider a “far more scientific” way of measuring public opinion than the simple online submission form used for the elementary school’s name.

The new school, located in north Bend at the corner of O.B. Riley and Cooley roads, is expected to open in September and hold 600 students.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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