Selma Middle rebrands mascot, but some worry about the cost

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Selma Middle School is rebranding its mascot.

Leaders at Selma Middle School in Johnston County are excited about a new mascot and logo, set to be rolled out in the fall.

But not everybody is on board with the decision, including two members of the District's School Board.

"I received calls from concerned parents, teachers, and former students at Selma Middle School who thought the money used to change the mascot could be used for different things," said Ronald Johnson Jr., one of two board members to vote against the change.

In a 5-2 vote, the Johnston County School Board approved the name change from "Vikings" to "Railblazers."

Johnson cited concerns that the money spent on the change could go toward more pressing needs.

"According to my teachers, they told me 80 computers are outdated by our own policies. Furniture, athletic fields, athletic uniforms, those things need to be improved," Johnson said.

Johnson was also concerned by the cost of the project.

"When I asked, how are we going to fund this, and how much is it going to cost, I did not get a clear answer," Johnson said.

Through his research, Johnson said he believed the cost to change the logo - extending to signage, stationery, and gym flooring - could range from $25,000 to $50,000.

But Johnston County Schools District Chief of Communications Crystal Roberts said estimates are far lower.

"Over time, it will cost about $10,000," said Roberts, who added that those funds could be spent during two years.

Roberts noted that some boosters have said they'd be willing to donate to help cover those costs. Though the $10,000 is an estimate, Roberts said she did not believe the amount would differ greatly from that total.

It was the school principal's idea to change the mascot, with students, staff, and community members having an opportunity to choose from four final options.

"When students are engaged, and they feel like they are part of that learning, they do better," Roberts said.

Each principal has control of their respective budget, though checks and balances are in place. In response to feedback that the funds could have gone toward other purposes, Roberts said the focus remains on the betterment of students.

"We will not take away from our students' curriculum and academic offerings in order to rebrand a school," Roberts said.

Roberts compared this rebranding to one that recently took place at Cooper Academy, which used to be known as Cooper Elementary. In that case, the Board voted unanimously to approve the change, though Roberts added the make-up of the Board had changed since then.

As for Selma Middle School, Johnson asserted voters were not given the option to keep the Vikings, adding the mascot had been in place for more than two decades. Roberts said there were four final options, and that voters had the opportunity to share their preference to keep the current logo.
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