Residents of the Anoka-Hennepin school district get to play name-that-school this month.
The district is taking suggestions on what to call three "new" schools that will be cobbled together from upcoming school closings and consolidations.
The schools available for rechristening are:
•The current L.O. Jacob Elementary School in Coon Rapids, which will be converted to a district special education center next year.
•A new math and science specialty school to be housed at the current Parkview Early Childhood Center/Jackson Middle School site. The school will combine the former Riverview Specialty School for Math and Environmental Science in Brooklyn Park and Champlin Elementary School.
•A new middle school for the arts that will combine the current Fred Moore Middle School Center for the Arts, Sandburg Middle School and Washington Elementary School, all in Anoka. The new school will have campuses at both Fred Moore Middle and Washington Elementary.
All of this shifting around was the result of a decision by the school board last fall to close or convert eight schools. The move was meant to address the district's budget problems and the perception that there was too much underused space. Officials expect the move to save $3.1 million a year. The district is not seeking new names for buildings that will be closed.
District spokesman Brett Johnson said residents should send suggestions to the district via its website -- www.anoka.k12.mn.us -- and noted that certain guidelines apply. Nothing silly, for instance, and no names of persons who might be perfectly decent, but who are of little significance to the district, state or country. On the other hand, names of prominent people, either here or out of state, are welcome. They can be living or dead.
Geographic features are allowed, too. So are the names of the communities in which those schools are located. Existing school names may be kept.
The naming process was opened to the public Monday and continues through March 19. Then, Johnson said, task forces for each school will winnow suggestions to between three and five for each. The school board will get the finalists at its April 12 meeting, then is slated to pick the winners April 26.
Johnson said about a dozen suggestions have come in so far, and most make perfect sense.
"There's nothing that's been a head scratcher," he said.
Among the suggestions:
•Two Rivers Middle School and Garrison Keillor Middle School for the new middle school for the arts.
•Champlin View, Dunning Park Elementary (the name of the first school built in Champlin), Riverpark Elementary and Garden View Elementary for the new math and science specialty school.
One resident suggested the current Washington Elementary, which will serve as the sixth grade wing for the new middle school for the arts, be named for teacher Denise O'Neill, who died of a brain aneurysm last year while a teacher at Washington.
Some respondents have their old-fashioned ways.
"People who have gone to Fred Moore since Fred Moore was a middle school don't want to see it changed," Johnson said. Fred Moore, by the way, was a district school board member and chairman during the 1950s and 1960s. There have been no new names suggested so far for L.O. Jacob Elementary. L.O. Jacob also was a noted school board member.
This is not the first time the district has opened the school-naming process to public input.
"When we built Champlin Park High School [in 1992], we went through it," Johnson said. "When we built Andover High School [in 2002], we went through it. When we built Rum River Elementary School [in 2001], we went through it."
Generally, the response has been modest.
"I've heard that it wasn't overwhelming," said Johnson about the Rum River naming process. "It wasn't, like, hundreds."
Norman Draper • 612-673-4547