Don’t play the name game for cash

While we give Gilroy Unified School District Trustee David McRae
high marks for creativity, his idea to sell naming rights for
school district facilities deserves to be voted down.
While we give Gilroy Unified School District Trustee David McRae high marks for creativity, his idea to sell naming rights for school district facilities deserves to be voted down.

“This is common practice at Stanford,” McRae, who is employed by the private university, told reporter Eric Leins. “I’d like to see an increase in donations from wealthy families to schools. Having wealthy benefactors is beneficial to the Gilroy culture.”

While we can’t argue that increasing donations to the school district – especially during California’s $38-billion deficit crisis – is a laudable goal, we think names of school facilities shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder.

A name sold because its owner has deep pockets can become an embarrassment years later when the honored person turns out to have a shortage of character.

Just because selling facility names is a good idea for Stanford – where there are a lot more facility names available to market and a lot more wealthy benefactors to market them to – doesn’t mean the idea will work in Gilroy.

Current GUSD policy is to name school facilities after:

• Individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the school community, City of Gilroy or vicinity, including students and district staff members;

• Individuals who have made contributions of state, national or worldwide significance;

• The geographic area in which the facility is located or its historic significance.

We think that policy is right for Gilroy. For the overall good of our community, let’s continue to name school facilities to honor people based on the depth of their character, not the depth of their pockets.

McRae should be commended for at least bringing up a creative revenue-generating option – the district sorely needs them. Moreover, McRae has brought up a good point: It’s a good time to review the GUSD facility naming policy. Local bond money will be bringing numerous new facilities into the district during the next decade, and now’s the time to make sure the policy is rock solid. School facility names last a long, long time, so it’s important that the community gets it right the first time.

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