What’s in a name? School district considers change

With a century of tradition on one side and ever-growing geographic realities on the other, the Sumner School District is at a crossroads – is it time for a name change, adopting a formal title that reflects its sprawling boundaries?

The public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the topic on Wednesday during a public hearing called by the district’s board of directors. Families served by the school district and interested citizens are invited to attend the session, which begins at 6 p.m. in the district administration building, 1202 Wood Ave. in Sumner.

The board has proposed changing the name of the Sumner School District, which was established in 1891, to the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. State law requires a public hearing where the proposed name can be considered, along with other names suggested by the community.

Regarding the possible change, the district notes that it serves a much different base than it did 125 years ago. “Today, nearly twice as many families reside in Bonney Lake than in Sumner,” according to the district website.

A review of facilities shows how the district has migrated up Elhi Hill and onto the Plateau. Of the district’s eight elementary schools, six are in or around Bonney Lake, along with two of the district’s three middle schools. The two high schools represent their own turf, one in Sumner and one in Bonney Lake.

Additionally, the district’s transportation department, maintenance and operations facilities and Child Nutrition Program operate out of offices in Bonney Lake.

Tinkering with something that has generated loyalty through multiple generations is never easy and comments on the district’s Facebook page reflect that.

“History is history, why change it?,” wrote a member of the graduating class of 1999. “My mom was class of ’77, my five siblings (are) all Sumner graduates, my children who will graduate in the near future, for us it will always be known as Sumner School District.”

Another wrote, “Tradition, heritage, community…Sumner has all that. Bonney Lake has been a part of it but definitely lacks it’s own identity and I don’t feel the…name change is appropriate. I have lived in both locations, but proud that my son will be a third-generation Sumner graduate.”

Others focused on the costs that could be associated with a change.

“Spend our tax dollars on our kids! What a waste of time and money,” one person commented.

“Stupid waste of time and money,” wrote another. “The people meeting and discussing the change surely are not on their own time. They are paid wages for this waste of time, and will be paid wages for all the future time spent deciding logos, what font to use, graphic design, etc.”

The district has addressed those concerns on its website, assuring that the school board will continue an emphasis on putting financial resources into the classroom.

If the board votes for a change, things like business cards, letterhead and other similar products will gradually be replaced as the district depletes its existing stock. Items like school signage or bus decals would be changed as part of an ongoing cycle of repair and replacement.

Should the school board vote to change the district name, an effective date has not been determined.