, Salem, MA

Local News

June 29, 2013

Selling school naming rights wrong, says Peabody board member

PEABODY — A proposal to raise money for education by selling naming rights for various school facilities may have run into a patriotic roadblock.

It’s a common practice for sports facilities, from Gillette Stadium to TD Bank Garden, to win subsidies by attaching the names of commercial concerns. For companies like Gillette and TD Bank, it’s a form of advertising. And if it can work for professional teams, it may well be profitable for schools.

That concept is now under consideration in Peabody, said Mayor Ted Bettencourt, chairman of the School Committee.

“In these tough economic times, we have to look at different options,” he said, noting the large sums being expended already for construction of the new Higgins Middle School.

At a recent meeting, Superintendent Joe Mastrocola first raised the possibility as worthy of a study.

“I do think it was the right decision to bring this out for discussion,” Bettencourt said.

A donation from a family, a local business or even a large corporation could provide vital income for the schools, he indicated.

“I’m not saying we have to do this,” he added, “but it would be a mistake not to look into it.”

The idea sparked fierce opposition, however, from School Committee member Beverley Griffin Dunne.

“I think you would be selling the soul of our schools,” she told the News. “Very rarely do you hear me say, ‘I’m going to fight on this,’ but this time I do say it.”

Echoing what she told colleagues at the meeting, she added, “Our policy is a very firm one at the high school. Everything at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School needs to be named after a veteran.” Or it must invoke some aspect of the United States military. “I just assumed everyone knew that. ... That school was dedicated in honor of our veterans.”

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