The Sumner School District will become the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District, the school board decided at a board meeting Sept. 20 in a 3-2 vote in favor of the name change.
By including Bonney Lake in the new name, the district better recognizes the growing number of families and students living in the Bonney Lake area, said Board President Erin Markquart, who voted in favor of the change. Board members Casey Chamberlain and Deb Norris voted against the change.
“Many residents, both in the district and outside, tend to be surprised by how large an area the district encompasses,” said board member Paul Williams, who voted in favor of the new name. “Adding Bonney Lake to the district name does many things, among them are providing a better description of the district while including the largest of the close-knit communities.”
The district has more than 9,000 students and 13 schools. Four of those schools are located in Sumner, the rest in the Bonney Lake area.
The decision comes after years of considering the name change. The board discussed the change at several board meetings and held at public hearing on April 12.
At the hearing, many voiced their opposition to the change, fearing it would take away some of the district’s rich history.
“I heard many positive, negative, and indifferent views on the name change — I prefer name addition — over the months,” Williams said. “Bluntly, outside of costs, the most frequent was that many had an outdated view of Bonney Lake from 40 to 60 years ago. It seemed they felt that adding Bonney Lake was diminishing the strong reputation (or traditional history) of the Sumner name. It is not the Bonney Lake of 40 to 60 years ago. Instead it’s a thriving, medium-sized city that adds much to the district.”
“Change, we understand, can be difficult. Our elected school board, which represents voters, community partners, civic organizations and families from throughout the district, believes the name change is fitting,” the district stated on its website. “Not only does it reflect the geographic makeup of the district, but it also recognizes the significant partnership from Bonney Lake — its elected officials, citizens, civic organizations and leaders. The school board wanted the name to honor the rich and important history of Sumner, and this new name does that.”
Others claimed that nearby districts encompass multiple communities and have not changed their names. But most of the district’s facilities and students are now located in Bonney Lake, the district responded.
The school board ensured that its focus is still on its students, but that the name change is necessary. Previously, the cost for a name change was estimated to be between $39,000 and $100,000. The superintendent will create a roll-out plan.
“We’ll have a better idea on an estimated cost when we bring that plan to the board,” district communications director Elle Warmuth said.
The change will be phased in, starting with digital materials and then business stationery as they run out.
“Because most district materials are digital (website, social media, letterhead, etc.), cost changes will be minimal,” according to the district.
The district announced the change Thursday morning on its website and social media. Reactions about the change are mixed.
“I am pleased!!!!” wrote one user.
“I think it sounds like a waste of money,” wrote another user.
The name will be effective after the renaming process with the state is complete.