BOE tables Palmer Stone name change

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

OXFORD -- It will be at least another month before the Newton County Board of Education decides if its new elementary school will be called Palmer Stone Elementary School or some other name.

During its monthly work session Tuesday night, the school board unanimously approved a motion from Vice Chair Almond Turner requesting the board table a vote on naming the new school on Airport Road Palmer-Stone Elementary School.

"I think it would be good for us to have some additional dialogue," Turner said, adding that he had received several phone calls from the public concerned about the naming of the new school.

According to a proposed rezoning plan, Palmer Stone Elementary School's entire population is moving to the new school, along with students from some other elementary schools in the county.

The decision to table the vote came after several citizens came before the board during its work session to speak against naming the new school Palmer Stone. Earlier this month, the Oxford City Council passed a resolution against the naming of the new school Palmer Stone Elementary School.

"The name has been so intertwined in Oxford and its history," said long-time Oxford resident Virgil Eady during Tuesday's work session.

The school, which was built in 1955, 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 father, Harry Harlan Stone, served as president of the Newton County Board of Education for 40 years in the early part of the 20th century.

"It would be entirely inappropriate to use the name at any other location," said Oxford City Councilman Hoyt Oliver during Tuesday's work session. "It has been long associated with our story, and it's a story of a place."

School board Chair Cathy Dobbs said last week that she had already decided to vote in favor of naming the new elementary school Palmer Stone Elementary School. Other school board members have not yet expressed their opinions.

Some Oxford citizens have suggested that the school board name the new elementary school Flint Hill Elementary School -- in the late 1800s, the Flint Hill community was located in the area with Flint Hill Academy.

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 Newton County BOE is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 for a combined monthly work session and regular meeting in the board room at 2109 Newton Drive N.E. in Covington.