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April 13, 2021

School district mulls selling naming rights

– Call it Pac Bell High School, 3-Com Elementary School or maybe
just – insert your favorite Gilroy surname here – library wing.
GILROY – Call it Pac Bell High School, 3-Com Elementary School or maybe just – insert your favorite Gilroy surname here – library wing.

Gilroy Unified School District Trustee David McRae is asking staff to unearth the board policy guiding how schools are named. The first-year school board member wants fellow trustees to consider if naming rights for campuses or individual school buildings should be sold to companies and wealthy individuals.

The money-generating idea surfaced Wednesday night at a meeting where trustees approved a district budget chiseled by the state’s $38 billion revenue shortfall.

“I had this idea the first time I heard there would be a budget shortfall and that the district would have trouble finding the money to complete (the second phase of) the new high school,” McRae said.

McRae said he would not make the matter a focal point of his term, but believes ideas like this one should be brainstormed if there is potential to offset losses of state funding.

“If there is no momentum or interest by other trustees than I don’t see a point in pushing for this any further,” McRae said

Existing district policy makes no provision for allowing a commercial enterprise to buy naming rights. Under the policy, the board shall select a name that recognizes:

• 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.

Trustees can rename existing campuses and facilities “only under extraordinary circumstances and after thorough study,” the policy states.

For McRae, selling naming rights is not gimmicky commercialism as some purist sports fans have claimed in recent years. Instead, it’s a sign of pride in one’s community and schools.

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

Trustees gave little response to the idea which was mentioned only in passing at Wednesday’s session. School board President Jim Rogers said if such a policy were put in place, profits from the naming rights should be shared by all district schools since construction of the facilities was funded by all district taxpayers.

“There’s an equity issue there we’d have to look at,” Rogers said.

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