PORT ALLEN — The West Baton Rouge Parish School Board appears to have solved its recent turmoil over what to name a new school set for construction in the Erwinville area.
On Tuesday the board decided it will entertain a vote to call the new campus The Northside School, which was the top choice in an online survey the school district presented to the public this month.
The board is expected to make a final decision on the name at its full board meeting Dec. 20.
Construction on the new school, which will house Head Start to eighth-grade students living in the north end of the parish, is set to begin sometime early next year with an estimated price tag of $20 million. West Baton Rouge Parish voters last year approved a $90 million bond issue the board is using to finance new construction and building upgrades throughout the district.
The debate over what to name the Erwinville school has stretched on for several months with the board divided over whether to give the campus an original name or name it after the two schools from which the campus will draw its inaugural student body.
The district is consolidating the student populations at Chamberlin Elementary and Devall Middle schools.
What will happen to those campuses once the new school is built hasn't been determined yet, said schools Superintendent Wesley Watts.
"We may lease them or tear them down," Watts said in an interview before Tuesday's meeting.
Board members in favor of honoring the histories of those two schools preferred naming the new campus "Chamberlin Devall School."
After the board was unable to reach a decision last month, the district posted an online survey on its website inviting the public to weigh in on several possible names: Chamberlin Devall School, The Erwinville School, Rosehill School and The Northside School. Survey participants could also submit their own suggestions.
Watts presented the survey results to the board Tuesday night revealing that 201 residents had participated.
The Northside School received 32.8 percent of the vote with Rosehill School in a close second with 26.4 percent and The Erwinville School in third with 20.9 percent. Chamberlin Devall School came in fourth with 19.9 percent.
Board member Michael Maranto asked that the board at least consider honoring the legacies of Chamberlin and Devall with a historical marker inside the new campus detailing the roles each played through racial segregation and later desegregation in the parish.
"I believe in the people and what they say. But I think we can come up with something showing where those two schools came from and how they were combined," Maranto said at the board's committee meetings Tuesday. "I want something that really gets down to the history."
Nearly every board member present Tuesday liked the idea. Some also said naming the school The Northside School falls in line with the district's proclivity to name its schools according to their respective locations in the parish.
"I personally like the name Northside," said board member Toby Sarradet. "We all refer to that end as the north side in our meetings so it kind of fits."