Puyallup: Sumner

Opponents speak out against changing Sumner School District’s name

Sumner School District is considering a name change to Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.
Sumner School District is considering a name change to Sumner-Bonney Lake School District. Courtesy

Parents and alums spoke out Wednesday night at a Sumner School District hearing against changing the district’s name to Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.

The group expressed concerns over how much money will be allocated to the project and over alternating a name that’s been around for more than 125 years.

“I don’t see the point in change because there’s so much history,” said Molly Goff, who grew up in Sumner and graduated from the district.

Rick Rainwater of Sumner said that other nearby school districts, including Puyallup and Bethel, operate schools in unincorporated parts of Pierce County and haven’t proposed name changes.

The school board passed a motion March 15 to consider a name change to recognize the growing presence of students, staff members and district facilities in Bonney Lake.

“The city of Bonney Lake has been a big factor of the school district, and I think they deserve a little recognition for it,” said board member Rick Hendricks, who proposed the name change.

There are two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in Sumner. There are six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school in Bonney Lake.

Some of the district’s operating facilities, including the Transportation and Child Nutrition offices, are in Bonney Lake. Building an elementary school in the Tehaleh housing development is in the works, and the district is looking into building a district pool in Bonney Lake.

Bonney Lake and Sumner are close-knit communities, Hendricks said. He read a letter from Bonney Lake Mayor Neil Johnson, who endorses the name change.

Financial investments would continue to be focused on the classroom, the board said, and the preliminary cost estimate for the project is $39,000 to $100,000.

If the name change is approved, the board said, the district’s letterhead, business cards, school signage and bus decals would gradually be replaced with a new logo.

“This has been something that’s been talked about for a few years now,” board President Erin Markquart said.

With passage of a $145 million bond issue last year, the district will carry out school construction projects that would enable the name changes, Markquart said.

“We certainly don’t want anyone to think we’re trying to take away any part of Sumner’s rich history,” she added.

Wednesday night’s hearing was the only meeting for public input before the board makes its decision. Board members said they would consider holding another public meeting, but many opponents said they believe the board will make the change anyway.

The board wanted to take into consideration public voices before moving forward and has no time line for making a decision.

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison