The new name for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools should be decided by the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education on March 2, but the policy committee tasked with examining that issue will not be making a recommendation on the name.

The policy committee met Thursday to discuss the issue and narrowed down the choices but was unable to come to a consensus on the name. Current state law, N.C. Session Law 2016-14, Senate Bill 382, requires that the “Rocky Mount” portion of the name be dropped by July 1 when Rocky Mount stops funding the school district. The law states: “Beginning July 1, 2020, the ‘Nash Rocky Mount School Administrative Unit’ shall be named the ‘Nash School Administrative Unit,’ and the ‘Nash Rocky Mount Board of Education’ shall be the ‘Nash Board of Education.’”

However, the law does not specify what the “known name” of the school district will be — the name that will appear on all the school buses, websites, letterheads and myriad of other branding vehicles that will have to be changed to reflect the new name. That name must be chosen by the school board.

Some of the policy committee members favor using “Nash County Public Schools” as the new name. As school board attorney Lindsay Vance-Smith noted at Thursday’s meeting, almost every school district in the state uses a similar name that reflects the local funding entity of the school district. The lone exception is Durham Public Schools because that name reflects the name of both the county and the major city in that district.

Policy committee member William Sharpe moved Thursday that the committee recommend “Nash County Public Schools” to the school board as the new name.

“I make a motion that we be consistent with other districts in the state and be known as Nash County Public Schools,” Sharpe said.

Lank Dunton strongly agreed.

Other policy committee members want to use the name “Nash Public Schools” because they feel that it is more in keeping with what the legislation reflects. School board member Evelyn Bulluck feels strongly that the term “county” should be left out of the name.

“I wonder how the people in Edgecombe County feel about including ‘Nash County’ in the name because they are part of the school district,” Bulluck said.

Even after the name change, the school district still will encompass all of Rocky Mount, which includes a portion of students who live in Edgecombe County. Edgecombe County also is a partial funder of the school district as a result.

Bulluck and policy committee member Reginald Silver both voted to use “Nash Public Schools” as the new name at Thursday’s meeting.

Policy committee member Dean Edwards was not present at Thursday’s meeting and so there was no fifth vote to break the 2-2 tie.

Because the situation is urgent, and the school district needs to move on the issue if they are to transition the name of the district by July 1, the policy committee decided to recommend that the school board as a whole vote to decide between the two district names at the March board meeting.

The school board would have to make the ultimate decision on the name in any case.

Whatever happens at the school board meeting, Nash County commissioners are planning to ask the General Assembly to change the legal name of the school district in the state legislation when they meet in April. The policy committee members say they cannot wait that long to decide on a new name for the district.

As commissioners stated in the motion approved in January, “Nash County is the primary local funder for the Nash County Public School System. We therefore move that the Public School System be named the Nash County School Administrative Unit and the Board of Education be named the Nash County Board of Education. We will further request that the General Assembly, upon reconvening in the April 2020 short session, take action to effectuate this request by correcting the language in Session Law 2016-14, Senate Bill 382 Section 5 to read as follows: ‘Notwithstanding Chapter 391 of the 1991 Session Laws, beginning July 1, 2020, the “Nash-Rocky Mount School Administrative Unit” shall be named the “Nash County School Administrative Unit,” and the “Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education” shall be the “Nash County Board of Education.”’”