Chilliwack school district ponders selling naming rights for profit

A request by GWG to rename its sports field after a service club for sponsorship funding was debated among Chilliwack trustees Tuesday.

If G.W. Graham middle secondary is granted its wish of naming its sports field the GWG Rotary sports field, a precedent could be set.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Chilliwack trustees were presented a request from the school to rename the field after the local service club in an effort to offset the costs of the new football program.

But the question trustees wrangled with: Do they want their schools to be commercialized with outside advertising.

If the school partners with the Chilliwack Rotary Club, the organization’s sponsorship would include $10,000 for the football program. In exchange, Rotary would receive naming rights of the field and signage.

While schools and their separate facilities in Chilliwack have been named after influential leaders of the community – some of which include G.W. Graham, F.G. Leary, A.D. Rundle,  McAstocker Theatre, and J.Y. Halcrow Gymnasium – no facility has been named after a business, organization, or service club.

Superintendent Michael Audet called it a “complex issue” as the school district does not currently have policy in place for advertising on school grounds.

Trustee Barry Neufeld was in support of the sponsorship, believing it would encourage more students to become better social citizens and get involved with the different service clubs in Chilliwack.

However, trustees Silvia Dyck and Walt Krahn were a little more cautious.

“Typically naming has been done for folks who have done great things for education,” said Dyck. “This needs a bigger conversation.”Krahn agreed, adding it “behooves” the school district to have a well-established policy in place regardless of what is decided.

The request was referred to the board policy committee for consideration.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ON TWITTER:

“What’s next? Make all public officials & public employees wear McSuits to work and drive Double-Double-mobiles?” ~ @richardajabu

“Should schools sell or give away naming rights? Slippery slope? What do you think?” @pattibacchus

“I say keep private interest funding out of public realm…” @NicoleBensonVan

“If it means not exhausting my parent community for every nickle and dime to pay for tech upgrades, it’s worth a look.” @tech4ed88

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33