As a general rule, is anything wrong with honoring an individual by naming part of a public school building for him or her in exchange for money?
In our view, no.
The Board of Education is considering a request by the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation to get behind the idea of naming specific areas of schools, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, in return for donations. The foundation believes a step like this would be valuable in its efforts to raise funds for support of local public schools. We agree.
If the request is supported by the board, the policy revision would read, in part: "The Board may enter into an agreement with any person or entity regarding the naming rights to a District facility in exchange for a substantial donation or other contribution to the District or the Sioux City Public Schools Foundation."
We urge the board to embrace this request to make clear in district policy the fact naming rights in exchange for donations is acceptable, subject to whatever conditions the board deems appropriate.
The board should establish criteria for these agreements and retain the final say on such proposals. Every name may not be acceptable for display inside a school, no matter how much money is offered.
In our view, the Public Schools Foundation request represents a reasonable extension of a common method of honoring someone recognized and used across the country in a variety of places and forms.
If, say, a local family wishes to honor a late member for lifetime support of public education in this fashion by making a significant donation to Sioux City's public schools, we see nothing but positives resulting from approval of the request by the school board.