Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We preface this FAQ section by stating that we try to take an open-minded balanced view of the world. We also recognize that, as with any disagreement, reality and truth typically lie somewhere in the middle. We are saddened by the discord this issue has caused in our community. We strive to remain fair-minded and ask that those on the school board and in other positions of authority do not abuse their power or act in a manner that breaches the trust we have placed in them as stewards of our children’s education.
Who are we?
We are a rapidly growing group of concerned community members – including parents, friends, families, alumni, liberals, and conservatives – from many walks of life, ethnic backgrounds and religions who want to ensure that our school board is working in a transparent and democratic manner and that the education provided to the children is the primary focus.
Why is the district called Dixie?
The origin of the name is in dispute and there is no conclusive evidence to support any single position. We believe it was named after the Miwok woman Mary Dixie and the CTN group want to think it is named after the geographic location of the southern united states. To learn more about the history of the Dixie School District visit Dixie School District History.
Is the name Dixie School District racist? Is our community racist?
No and no. In addition to being a distinct geographic location in the United States that history associates with the Confederacy, the term Dixie has a number of meanings. While the origin of the name for the school district remains in question, we sincerely hope that no one on either side of this discussion really believes that our Dixie School District is a “Confederate outpost in Northern California” as it was recently described by pro-change advocate Noah Griffin of Tiburon at a school board meeting.
Who is pushing for the name change?
Some advocates for change have pure motives born of personal belief. While we may disagree with them, we respect their opinions. Others are using the issue as a political platform for their own interest. Instead of engaging with the community in civil dialog of give and take, they have engaged activist groups and the press in an effort to institute change without canvassing their constituents.
There are also those who may support the change advocated, but refuse to take a public stand. Each and every school board member and school board candidate should state where he or she stands on this issue before the upcoming elections.
What will it cost to change the name?
No one knows exactly how much it will cost to rename the school district. We do know, however, that the cost will be significant. Rebranding expenses will include legal counsel, physically renaming buildings, buses, signage, documents, and websites as well as community engagement and education.
As an example, the Palo Alto Unified School District commenced an assessment to change the name of two schools in December 2016. When the changes were finalized in March 2018, the estimated cost was in excess of $200,000.
Can the district afford to fund the name change?
No. Even with community agreement the district would have to redirect already limited resources.
The following excerpt was taken directly from the Dixie School District budget page: “Based on recent comparisons Dixie School District has the lowest reserve level in Marin County school districts. The importance of a strong reserve level was evident that during the past recession Dixie was able to maintain staff and the programs that make the district special. With our low reserve we have very little room for any unanticipated expenditures.”
“Unless our financial situation improves it will be extremely difficult to maintain our current programs. The Dixie School Board has requested that a Superintendent’s Budget Committee be established to address these issues.”
Can the name change be funded privately?
Possibly. However, given the low initial estimates ($30,000) that have been suggested by those in favor of the change, it would be prudent to ensure that the pro-change advocates have done the work and spent the money to get a fully independent estimate for the cost of change prior to taking up the school board’s time.
Recently two schools in Palo Alto underwent a name change and it cost the district over $200,000 so it’s reasonable to assume that any private funding would likely need to meet or exceed $200,000 before this option is seriously considered.
If the community decides that a change of name is warranted, and the cost to be privately funded, a plan for private fundraising would need to be in place. Even then it will not include the cost in terms of the time the school district board, educators, parents and community members spend on this matter instead of the children’s education.
If we don’t change the name, what should we be doing?
Let’s ensure we do not forget the errors of the past. Those interested in impacting positive change in our community should consider volunteering in our classrooms or directing their focus to raising awareness and fundraising for programs that target real issues that are impacting today’s communities.
UNITY NOT DIVISION IS WHAT WE NEED
We would be wise to take guidance from Abraham Lincoln, who is a beacon for those who consider one of America’s greatest victories to be the end of the abhorrent practice of slavery.
‘FELLOW CITIZENS: I am very greatly rejoiced to find that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people cannot restrain themselves. I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of a formal demonstration, this, or perhaps, tomorrow night. If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, will be called upon to respond, and I shall have nothing to say if you dribble it all out of me before. I see you have a band of music with you. I propose closing up this interview by the band performing a particular tune which I will name. Before this is done, however, I wish to mention one or two little circumstances connected with it. I have always thought `Dixie’ one of the best tunes I have ever heard. Our adversaries over the way attempted to appropriate it, but I insisted yesterday that we fairly captured it. [Applause.] I presented the question to the Attorney General, and he gave it as his legal opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and applause.] I now request the band to favor me with its performance.”
… and, yes, the band played “Dixie” because Abraham Lincoln sought an end to division.