Cost analysis of name change should happen before public survey

The+front+entrance+of+George+Mason+High+School.

Photo by Sam Mostow

A picture of the front entrance of George Mason High School. Over the past few months, there has been a push to change the names of George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.

Sam Mostow, Advertising & Social Media Editor

The school board is moving along with the process to decide if the names of George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School should be changed. Next in the process is a survey asking the residents of Falls Church for their opinion. A proposed timeline schedules the survey to take place between October 6 and October 20.

However, in the September 8 board meeting, it was reported that the cost analysis process for the FCCPS name change has not fully begun, and multiple board members expressed that they would like that process to be completed by November. That tentative deadline for the cost analysis means the public won’t know how much the name changes will cost until weeks after their opinions have been collected. 

The school board shouldn’t expect residents of Falls Church to express their preferences about name changes before they know how much they will cost. For this reason, the school board should wait until they know the costs of changing the names before surveying the community.

FCCPS is losing a lot of revenue due to the pandemic. The budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year was cut down by $2.4 million. We are currently experiencing a massive economic recession and we don’t know how it will affect FCCPS in the long run. The community deserves to know how much taxpayer money will be spent before making any decisions or having to state their preferences.

The best decisions are made when everyone taking part is informed. Surveying the community before cost-analysis processes have taken place will lead the public to making uninformed decisions. This could lead to the school board making a decision that they and the public will ultimately regret. 

Slowing down the process could mean that it’ll be another few months before a decision is made. This might seem annoying in the short term, however, this is a small price to pay for the residents of Falls Church being properly informed when making such a decision. Let’s prioritize making the right decision over speed.

Changing the names of Mason and Jefferson shouldn’t be rushed. The process must be approached with the delicacy that it requires. This is a decision that could affect generations of Falls Church residents. The school board must take their time and make the decision that the public believes is best.

This is one of a series of student-written opinions about the potential name change of George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary. Read more here.