Grand Terrace urges school name change
By Stephen Wall Staff Writer
GRAND TERRACE - The city wants the Colton school board to reconsider its decision to name the new high school in town after a longtime Colton resident.
In a letter delivered to the school district Thursday, the City Council unanimously expresses "dismay and disappointment over the naming process and the ultimate name selection" for the school.
The council "sincerely and fervently requests" that the school be renamed Grand Terrace High School, the letter says.
The school board voted 5-1 two weeks ago to name the school after retired trustee Ray Abril, Jr., who served on the board from 1973 to 2001.
The $82 million campus, on Main Street east of Taylor Street, is due to open in fall 2011. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled April 4.
The Colton Joint Unified School District conducted a public survey requesting nominations for a name. "Grand Terrace High School" was the overwhelming winner. "Ray Abril High School" came in fourth place.
It was "unconscionable" for the board to ignore "the clear mandate" from Grand Terrace residents who were "a driving force" behind the passage of two bond measures that helped provide money for the high school, the letter states.
The city also assembled prime commercially zoned land for the high school and sold property to the district at "a very fair market value," according to the letter.
Residents also sacrificed two sports fields at a city park for the school, and city staff helped two businesses relocate elsewhere in town so the 67-acre campus could be built, the letter says.
The city also paid for off-site infrastructure improvements needed to build the school, the letter states.
The letter notes Abril made "significant contributions" to the district and perhaps should be honored with a facility named after him in Colton.
Patt Haro, the lone board member to oppose naming the school after Abril, said she would ask her colleagues to revisit the decision.
"I believe firmly that the people should be listened to," Haro said. "I believe Ray Abril should be honored. I respect him immensely. I just don't think this is the venue to do it."
Board member Kent Taylor said he stands by the name.
"I support the decision that was made based on all the input I received from Grand Terrace residents and Colton residents," Taylor said.
Taylor said the naming controversy distracts from the "wonderful accomplishment" of Grand Terrace finally getting its own top-notch high school.