Examining how much it would cost to rename R.E. Lee High School

Published: Jul. 18, 2018 at 6:33 PM EDT
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As fervent debate continues in Staunton over possibly renaming Robert E. Lee High School, one question many people opposed to the change or on the fence about it have posed has to do with how much it would cost the school district to make such a change.

But it's not a question with a clear-cut answer.

Other schools named after people associated with the Confederacy have changed their names, and the cost has varied. A

in Petersburg covered the cost of renaming three elementary schools.

Elsewhere in Virginia, it was estimated that $175,000 will cover the cost of renaming a

, previously named for Stonewall Jackson.

Of that cost, $100,000 alone was reserved for replacing the school's gym floor, which was set to be replaced in about two years.

In northern Virginia, news reports before the renaming of J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School drew a lot of attention with an estimated $1 million price tag.

But, according to Matt Guilfoyle, the Executive Director of Communication for Fairfax County Public Schools, the total cost came out to $453,862, which was offset by private donations of $91,155.

Staunton City Schools superintendent Dr. Garrett Smith didn't provide an exact number for R. E. Lee High School, but said that high schools are generally the most expensive to change the name for.

He did say that some of the bigger ticket items, like a new gym floor, new signs and new scoreboards, could be covered in the cost of the upcoming renovation already planned for the aging school.

"Those are the things that we know would have to change," Smith said. "Some of it will be covered in the construction costs, some of it won't, and right now, like I said, we're continuing business as usual."

The school board hasn't decided yet whether or not to change the name. The vote could come after a presentation from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, which hosted the recent

for community members to express their opinions.

That presentation could come as early as next month's school board meeting.

If the school board does vote to change the name, Smith says some of the cost could also be covered by donations, like other name changes have been. If those don't cover it, he hopes the school board would give them enough time to gather the funding.