New School District Name

James Tucker, back, and Steve Aycock change the name of the Nash-Rocky Mount school district to Nash County Public Schools on a bus.

After exactly 28 years, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will cease to exist as of June 30.

Instead, the school district will be known once again as Nash County Public Schools. But it will not be the same school district as it was before.

This time, Nash County Public Schools will include all Rocky Mount students, even if those students live in Edgecombe County.

The reason for the change reflects the history of school districts in the Twin Counties.

Before July 1, 1992, Nash County Public Schools encompassed only the schools located in Nash County outside of the Rocky Mount city limits. Schools within the boundaries of Rocky Mount were part of Rocky Mount City Schools, which included schools within the city limits located in both Nash and Edgecombe counties.

However, that changed in 1991 when the General Assembly voted to merge Rocky Mount City Schools and Nash County Public Schools after years of mainly racial conflicts over educational issues. The 1991 legislation instituted the merger with the stated purpose “of providing a quality education to all students residing therein.”

As part of that legislation, Edgecombe County had to contribute funding to the newly formed Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools to cover the costs of Edgecombe County students attending the schools. However, since Edgecombe County generally spends less money per student than Nash County does, the City of Rocky Mount was required to pay what became known as the “gap payment” between the two figures.

The discussion re-emerged in 2015 when Nash County commissioners voted to pursue a demerger of the school district, proposing it to be split along county lines. This led to more than a year of debate about the issue, once again spurring conflict about the best way to improve education with what Nash County commissioners considered an outdated and unworkable funding formula.

The General Assembly stepped in once again to resolve the issue. N.C. Session Law 2016-14 stopped the proposed split of the school district but restructured the funding formula. Under that new formula, Rocky Mount will no longer be required to contribute to the school district and Edgecombe County will assume a greater share of the burden.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, also requires the school district to change its name to reflect that loss of a funding partner.

“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,” the law states.

However, the law did 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 that will reflect the new name. That decision was left up to the school board to decide.

After considerable debate, the school board voted to revert to Nash County Public Schools in recognition of the school district’s primary local funding partner.

But changing the name of a school district is not an easy task.

“This is not something that happens often,” said Brian Littke, director of transportation for the school district.

Littke is tasked with changing the names and logos on all school district vehicles to reflect the new appellation.

That means that he and his crew are spending much of their time these days removing the “Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools” designations from roughly 145 yellow school buses, 28 activity buses and approximately 108 other vehicles and trailers, according to information provide at a school board meeting in May. It also means working to correct the titles and registrations on 281 vehicles belonging to the school district.

All that comes at a cost. In May, the estimated cost of the name change for the transportation department alone was $10,200. In addition, an estimated 875 hours of labor will be required to make the changes.

Changes are also being made to the district branding, website, social media sites, signage and pieces of technology. The cost for these changes has not yet been determined, but they are slated to be borne by the school district, not by the county, Christine Catalano, executive director of communication, planning and engagement for the school district, told the Telegram.

The changes also mean new colors and new logos for the school district. The new official colors are blue and coral with silver accents when needed. The new district logo incorporates these colors, but an alternate basic blue option will be used on vehicles and some signs.

The new district logo was selected through a design contest open to all high school students in the district. A total of 35 logo designs were submitted during the contest in March. School and district leaders voted on the top design based on each logo’s relevance, originality and aesthetic quality, according to a recent press release from the school district.

The winning logo was designed by Southern Nash High School senior Matt Foster. Matt was recognized by the school board in April and presented with a $100 gift card donated by First Financial Group. He will also receive district promotional items with his winning logo showcased on them, the release said.

The new name change also means that parents and other stakeholders will have to adjust to new ways of getting information about the school district. The school district has purchased the domain name and all school websites and staff email addresses will be adjusted to reflect that change.

The school district will also have a new Facebook Page, Nash County Public Schools, a new Instagram handle, NashCPschools, and a new Twitter handle, @NashCPschools.

These changes should take place July 1.