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Charlottesville moves forward with renaming Burnley-Moran and Johnson elementary schools

Charlottesville City Schools is recommending that Burnley-Moran and Johnson elementary schools be renamed. Just what the schools will be renamed is unclear.

After collecting the survey data, polling third and fourth graders and conducting a community forum last month, the renaming committee is consulting staff at both schools to see how they feel about possible new names. For Burnley-Moran, the two most popular names are Blue Mountain and Rivanna. For Johnson, the two top names are Cherry Avenue and Forest Hills.

In January, city schools put out a survey asking whether respondents supported renaming Burnley-Moran and Johnson. It also asked respondents to rank proposed new names and suggest others for the schools.

“The committee will decide what are the proposed new names,” Charlottesville City Schools spokeswoman Amanda Korman told The Daily Progress.

The final decision, however, rests with the Charlottesville School Board. A school board vote on new names could come as early as March 2.

City school officials said the schools’ names are no longer “in alignment with the division’s current values, particularly racial equity,” as the namesakes worked in segregated schools.

Sarepta Moran, one half of Burnley-Moran, was one of the first two women to lead a Charlottesville school, having served as the principal of Venable Elementary. She was also an active member in the Albemarle chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Carrie Burnley was also among the first female leaders of a Charlottesville school, serving as principal of the former McGuffey School. Burnley was also a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. As principal of McGuffey, she invited students to decorate the since-removed statues of Confederate generals downtown.

Johnson Elementary was named after James G. Johnson, who served as the superintendent of city schools from 1909 until 1946, while the division was racially segregated.

Charlottesville parents, students and school officials could not agree on the renaming of Burnley-Moran and Johnson during the community forum in January. A little more than 60% of survey respondents said they supported renaming Burnley-Moran, while 23% said they didn’t want the school’s name to change. Half of survey respondents said they supported renaming Johnson, and 30% said they wanted the name to remain the same.

“I think the students are very connected to the school name,” said Benjamin Thompson, a former Johnson student whose mother serves as its principal, during the forum.

One parent of a Burnley-Moran student said during the forum she was entirely unaware of the history of the school names until the division began reviewing those names.

“Until this survey came out, I had never even looked into it,” Madeline Hawks said.

After looking into it, she said she supported renaming.

“I’m in favor of going away from naming things after people,” she said.


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