...continued from page 1
Cooke whispered something inaudible.
Duncan said, "She said, 'This is going to be interesting.'"
Duncan said a Solomon was needed to make the decision. He said he knew Coble as an attorney before he was elected, knew Simkins and knows Frye.
Duncan said, "This is one of the most difficult decisions that we've faced, I think, when it comes to naming schools." School board members always say that when naming schools, to placate the losers.
The school board began to vote on the stacked motion.
The motion to name the school "Simkins-Pringle Elementary" failed on a 2-to-7 vote. Only Duncan and Garrett voted for the name. School board members Daniels and Deena Hayes, the most conservative and most liberal members of the school board, were absent.
The vote to name the school for Simkins passed 6-to-3, with only Price, Cooke and Garrett voting against it.
That seemed to settle the question.
"I think everyone can agree we had many good options," Duncan said. "Perhaps too many good options."
Then the school board broke for its "attorney-sandwich privilege" closed session in which it eats and talks about things not allowed under the North Carolina open meetings law, using school board attorney Jill Wilson for cover.
During the meeting, school board members got nervous about a possible political backlash for Coble, a popular figure in the county and particularly in the area around the new elementary school. Duncan did some quick thinking.
After the break, Duncan got a motion to reconsider the issue passed, then said that, "after giving this some additional thought," he wanted to make a motion to name the school "Simkins-Coble Elementary."
Duncan said, "There's a certain symmetry about that that's sort of appropriate."
Duncan must have meant that there was a symmetry in linking the names of a liberal civil-rights leader and a conservative sitting congressman into one school name. If so, it was a symmetry that was going to make no one happy and was considered an insult by both supporters of Simkins and supporters of Coble, each of whom wanted an entire school named after their nominee.
Duncan's motion to reconsider passed 5-to-3, because Price was out of the room. Duncan sent Wilson after him.
By the time Price had returned, Quick had made a substitute motion to leave the school named after Simkins, as the board had already voted. School board member Carlvena Foster seconded the motion.
Quick reiterated his praise for Coble, and said he wouldn't praise him any more, because to do so would look defensive.
Quick attacked Duncan's cop-out language about the decision being difficult.
"I don't understand, in your remarks Mr. Chairman, that this was difficult," Quick said. "I don't see that it was more difficult than any other naming process that we have gone through."
Quick also said he didn't like the practice of giving schools dual names, and Price agreed.
Price said he would happily name a school each for Coble and Simkins, but backed Quick's motion to name the southeast elementary school after Simkins.
"Each one deserves his own school," Price said. "We're kind of compromising, and I don't think that's right. Howard Coble deserves his own school."
Price said he could volunteer several schools in High Point to be named for Coble.
Alexander pointed out that Guilford County Schools
has a surplus of schools with meaningless directional names, and said that Southeast Guilford Middle School could be renamed for Coble.
Cooke said she was opposed to hyphenated names when the school board named Haynes-Inman.
Duncan replied, dryly, "You mentioned it, yes."
Cooke said, however, that the name "Haynes-Inman" had become natural and that Simkins-Coble would also. She said, "To me it's a compromise, and I think it would be an honor for both of them."
Quick said that if the school board were to vote to rename a school, it should be Aycock Middle School in Greensboro, "given the history of Gov. Aycock."
Aycock was named after Charles B. Aycock, who was governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905 and was a strong proponent of education, becoming known as "the education governor." But he was also, according to the North Carolina History Project of the John Locke Foundation, a white supremacist who supported the disenfranchisement of black citizens.
Quick said he would love to trade renaming Aycock for Simkins in exchange for naming the southeast elementary school for Coble.
Quick's motion to name the school solely after Simkins was the last in the series of motions. It passed 5-to-4. Quick, Price, Alexander, Foster and Routh voted to name the school for Simkins. Duncan, Garrett, Cooke and school board member Jeff Belton voted not to.