Changing the name of Longfellow School, pictured here, is being considered by the Northfield school board. Before a decision is made, the historical impact of the name will be considered along with the need for people to know the services available within the facility. (Sam Wilmes/Northfield News)

The Northfield School Board is considering renaming Longfellow School to accommodate a shift in the building’s purpose.

In discussion May 26 during a board meeting, it was revealed the district is considering renaming the building to Northfield Public Schools District Office and the Area Learning Center.

School Board member Jeff Quinnell, who grew up on nearby St. Olaf Avenue, said he is opposed to renaming the Longfellow building. To him, people would struggle to find the building without the Longfellow name.

Fellow School Board member Noel Stratmoen said although he enjoys names that distinguish the functions of buildings, he agrees with Quinnell that older people will likely recognize the Longfellow name best.

In previous years, Longfellow School has hosted early childhood programs, Ventures Childcare and the Adult Learning Center. The school also houses the Teaching and Learning and Special Services departments.

The childcare center is set to move from the building before this fall as part of a construction project. The first floor of the Longfellow building will be renovated for district offices now located at the high school. The ALC will have a separate entrance. The old media center, where the child care center currently is, will be converted to a board room/conference center and staff area.

School Board Chairwoman Julie Pritchard said consideration is taking place because of the building’s ever-evolving use.

There is precedent for the idea. The district just renamed the former Greenvale Park Elementary School building Northfield Community Education Center to provide clarity for people who enter the building.

Pritchard said she understands the Longfellow name is historic within the school district, and has called on Northfield Public School’s historian to look into the origins of the name. She said a proper balance will be needed between the familiarity the community has with the name with the need to have proper, clear signage.

The board also expressed interest in developing a policy around naming facilities. Pritchard noted other districts have a similar policy in place. In Northfield, a school Policy Committee could form a set naming policy.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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