Education

Here are nominations for the renaming of Johnson-Wakeland IB School

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Meet the members of the Manatee School Board and the schools they represent.
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Meet the members of the Manatee School Board and the schools they represent.

The name at Johnson-Wakeland School of International Baccalaureate is changing, though not by much, it seems.

Wakeland Elementary School moved onto the same campus as Johnson Middle School in August 2018, after the school district reviewed its enrollment numbers and the crumbling foundation at Wakeland Elementary.

Located on 26th Avenue East in Bradenton, Johnson-Wakeland is currently two schools on one campus, though both will officially merge into one K-8 school by next year, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders said at Tuesday’s school board workshop.

The renaming process started last October, and the board will makes its final decision after a public hearing on May 14.

There were 65 different nomination as of Tuesday morning, and the most popular submissions resemble the school’s current placeholder, Johnson-Wakeland. Most of the top nominations honor Louise R. Johnson, the first African-American to serve on Manatee County’s school board, along with a veteran educator and a staunch advocate for equity among black students.

  • Louise R. Johnson K-8 IB School (22)
  • Louise R. Johnson K-8 School of International Studies (14)
  • Johnson-Wakeland (11)
  • Louise Rogers Johnson K-8 (5)
  • Louise R. Johnson K-8 (3)
  • Johnson-Wakeland K-8 IB World School (3)

The school district is still collecting feedback until the public hearing next month. There are three ways to submit a nomination:

  • Email submissions to communications@manateeschools.net.
  • Mail submissions to the School District of Manatee County at P.O. Box 9069, Bradenton, FL 34206.
  • Personally deliver submissions to the School Support Center at 215 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

Board member Charlie Kennedy said he wanted to retain part of the current name to honor Johnson and her family’s local impact. However, he cautioned against the inclusion of “IB” in the name, because the school’s International Baccalaureate program isn’t guaranteed forever.

“The Rogers (Johnson) family is still very much invested in Manatee County schools,” he said.

Gina Messenger, the board’s vice chair, urged residents to speak now instead of waiting until the board chooses a name, alluding to the massive outrcy when North River High School was first christened.

The school board moved to rent the Bradenton Area Convention Center in February, accommodating hundreds of people, and the campus evolved into Parrish Community High School after more than 18 months of debate.

“I would just encourage as many people as possible to come, speak their mind, email us,” Messenger said.

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