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Historic name not moving to new school

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

OXFORD — Students scheduled to attend Newton County's newest elementary school on Airport Road next year will have to wait a little longer to know what the school will be called.

The Newton County Board of Education voted during its monthly meeting last week to not transfer the name Palmer Stone Elementary School to the new school, as previously discussed.

According to an approved elementary rezoning plan, Palmer Stone Elementary School's entire population will move to the new school, along with students from some other elementary schools in the county. The new school is scheduled to open in August.

Palmer Stone Elementary School, which was built in 1955 on Ga. Highway 81 in the Oxford city limits, was named after James Palmer and George W. W. Stone, professors at Emory College who helped charter what was originally the Palmer Institute in 1860; Stone's son, Harry Harlan Stone, served as president of the Newton County Board of Education for 40 years in the early part of the 20th century.

During last week's meeting, school board Vice Chair Almond Turner made a motion to name the new school in accordance with the school board's policy on naming schools and not transfer the name Palmer Stone to the new school. The vote was seconded by board member Johnny Smith and later agreed upon by fellow member Greg Proffitt; board Chair Cathy Dobbs and member Eddie Johnson voted against Turner's motion, so the motion passed.

According to Policy FDC, the board is responsible for naming new facilities of the district. Consideration for naming a school facility after an individual, living or deceased, may be given if land was donated by the individual or the individual's family and such land was accepted by the board for the purpose of constructing a school facility or if an individual or individual's family donates the money to purchase land or construct a school facility and such money was accepted by the board for that purpose.

"It saddens me that the name Palmer Stone will be associated with an empty building and not with a living, breathing, vibrant building," Dobbs said at the meeting.

The Oxford City Council has mentioned looking at purchasing the building if it ever became available, and Dobbs has said the school board wouldn't be opposed to the city of Oxford using the name Palmer Stone for a future use of the building, although NCSS hasn't yet decided what will happen with it. Last year, NCSS decided to phase out state funding of Palmer Stone and Ficquett elementary schools and Newton High School; Sharp Learning Center also was previously phased out of state funding but still remains in use by NCSS.

The board did not set a date or time line for the naming of the new school. The board's next meeting is Jan. 1, 7 p.m., for a work session; the board will be comprised of three new members at that point.