Kansas City district will reconsider Central High School name change

Before Alexander Ellison could object, the name of his historic high school had changed.

Central High School in Kansas City became the Central Academy of Excellence earlier this year.

The change was made too quickly, Kansas City Public Schools superintendent Steve Green has since conceded.

Ellison and others who cherish the old name will get their chance to be heard.

The district is holding a public meeting to reopen discussion on the possible name change at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school at 3221 Indiana Ave.

The 128-year-old school has “its own rich history of excellence in academics and athletics,” said Ellison, a 1964 graduate of Central.

He realizes the Central of the past 20 years has suffered from declining academic performance and discipline problems.

“But I don’t think changing the name changes the culture,” he said.

Third-year principal Linda Collins proposed changing the name to “Academy” because she believed it would help christen internal changes the staff planned in order to re-energize the school’s culture in 2012-2013.

Green liked the idea and suggested adding “of Excellence” after “Academy.”

Collins said she met with the staff about the idea and spoke with some alumni and felt she had support for changing the name.

In July she went before the school board to ask for the change, saying that “a new attitude, a new outlook, a greater sense of pride and a new school name will clearly establish a new set of higher expectations for patrons of Central High School.”

The board gave it unanimous approval.

But many alumni did not like the name change and learned about it only after the board had approved it, Ellison said.

Green, at the school board’s October meeting, agreed that the administration had not followed board policy that required a public meeting for such a change.

The policy states: “Where an administration action or decision affects an entire school where reasonable, the administration shall not fail to confer with affected school communities in a special meeting before the decision or action is adopted.”