After more than 100 years, the Sumner School District is contemplating a big change.
A new name.
The district is considering a switch to the name Sumner-Bonney Lake School District.
Why? The school district website notes that the majority of its students and schools are in Bonney Lake. Nearly twice as many of the district’s families live in Bonney Lake as in Sumner, according to officials.
Why now? District officials say they are undertaking several capital improvement projects and planning for future growth.
“Considering a name change to reflect the larger geographic area we serve made sense,” according to the website.
Sumner School District, in East Pierce County, has nearly 9,000 students and 13 schools. The district traces its roots to 1891 — a date proudly displayed on its logo.
Over the years, the district has expanded beyond the borders of Sumner. It now includes parts of Edgewood and unincorporated areas of Pierce County, as well as Sumner and Bonney Lake.
The Sumner School Board voted March 15 to consider the proposed name change. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 12 at the district Central Administration Office, 1202 Wood Ave., Sumner.
A lively discussion has already broken out on the school district’s Facebook page.
Some commenters object to the change, saying it will cost taxpayers too much money. Others say the change is unnecessary. Some are ambivalent, while others like the idea, saying it will finally give Bonney Lake the recognition it deserves.
Some note that there are surrounding districts that cover more than one community, but retain their single historic name. Examples include Milton and Fife, both part of the Fife School District, and the Puyallup School District, which includes not only the city of Puyallup, but the growing South Hill community.
Still others note that multiple generations of their families have attended Sumner schools, and they argue the school district should honor tradition and leave the name as is.
This isn’t the first time that the Sumner-Bonney Lake question has arisen in the school district. Before Bonney Lake High School opened in 2005, there was some debate about what to call the district’s second high school (Sumner High School was the first). In the end, the new high school was named for its community.
State law requires the school district to hold a public hearing and to consider other names suggested by the community. A majority of school board members would need to vote to adopt the new name for the change to take place.
The board has said that if the switch is approved, the name change would be phased in to keep down costs. Business cards, letterhead and other materials with the new name would be gradually replaced as old supplies run out. School signs and bus decals would change as part of the district’s ongoing cycle of repair and replacement, or in conjunction with school remodeling projects.