COLTON - School district officials no longer have to refer to new high school planned for Grand Terrace as "No. 3."
The Colton Joint Unified School District Board of Education on Thursday evening voted 5-1 to name the Grand Terrace campus after 76-year-old Ray Abril, a longtime Colton resident who served on the school board for 28 years.
Board Member Patt Haro voted no. Board President Marge Mendoza-Ware was absent.
The vote came over the objections of Grand Terrace residents who strongly favored naming it after their city.
In a meeting punctuated by applause and at times boos, eight Grand Terrace residents spoke in favor of naming the school after their city. More wanted to comment but the board limited the total time for comment on the subject to 15 minutes under its rules.
Janice Martin, a Grand Terrace resident since 1965, said folks have been waiting for decades to have a high school and wanted it named for the community.
"This is our flagship high school," she said. "We're not going to have another school."
Two people spoke in favor of naming the school after Abril.
Gil Navarro, a county school board trustee said naming the school after Abril would send a positive message to Latino students.
Teacher Bernadette Pedroza said Abril served all students in the district whether from Colton, Bloomington or Grand Terrace.
"Ray is a symbol of bringing everyone together," she said.
Residents said after the vote that they didn't feel particularly unified with the board.
Of the 365 nominations from residents, 124 favored Grand Terrace High. Ray Abril and/or Ray Abril Jr. High School received 17 votes.
Lamont Dusseau, who lives near the school site, criticized the board after the vote for not following the wishes of the majority of residents.
"It would make me proud to have it named after the city," he said. "The precedent has been set with Colton and Bloomington."
The high school, slated to open in fall 2011, is estimated to cost about $75 million, some of which will come from Measure G, a $101 million bond measure voters approved in November.
Board Member Robert Armenta, Jr. said he nominated Abril for his leadership and dedication to academics.
"Our district is a better place because of all the contributions Ray Abril made," he said.