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Divided School Board Approves Policy Revision for Naming District Facilities

School Board Secretary Nick Fiani and Trustee Bill Trombley hope to generate revenue from the revised commemoration and naming policy.

A divided Brighton Area Board of Education voted 4-3 to revise the district's Commemorative Naming Policy for school facilities.

The revision allows the district to consider commemorative naming for the commercial purpose of generating revenue.

Vice President Bill Anderson, Treasurer Jay Krause and Trustee Beth Minert all opposed the revision.

"We're trying to generate revenue to avoid cuts and balance budget," Trustee Bill Trombley said. "We feel there could be potential revenue in new stadium and possibly the Brighton Center for Performing Arts. This streamlines process and moves it forward in timely manner to generate revenue from some of the buildings if that's the case."

The revision states that the board shall not change the name of any facility without the community having input over a period of one board meeting - unless there is an opportunity to generate revenue, then the board may act without community input.

"The idea is, if we are generating revenue, we don't go through this process," Trombley said. "It's just a board decision to allow it. If it's the naming of a school or a playground or something like that, then we would put together the committee, the students, the union representation."

Superintendent Greg Gray said he agreed that the district needs to generate revenue, but cautioned board members.

"I think this could be a slippery slope depending on who is sitting in those seven seats," he said. "If you have someone come in and name - talk about conflict of interest - a brand new varsity football field and you have four people agree for $150, you probably just sold out the district for $150."

Gray said that he's seen district's with a name on everything, including school buses.

"If you do pass it, let us work on the administrative guidelines with our attorneys because long after I'm gone, long after you're all gone, people will interpret it differently, and you don't want to leave the legacy of selling out the district's property," Gray said.

Minert expressed concerns over the board being able to immediately commemorate a facility or stadium.

"The naming a facility like a stadium can be a real touchy thing, like the Taco Bell Stadium or something like that," she said. "I would like more input. I don't necessarily know from whom at this time. I think it would be real touchy in the community and I don't think I would want to immediately commemorate a facility or stadium."

Trombley said he wouldn't mind naming it Taco Bell Stadium if it would balance the district's budget.

Gray interjected that guidelines needed to be set because what if Budweiser were to donate $10 million to name the stadium?

Fiani said he would take the money from Budweiser with no question, a statement to which many people in the audience objected.

"We need the money, he said. "That would balance the budget."

"From a substance that our students are not supposed to be using and that is illegal for them to be using?" Minert questioned.

Board President Miles Vieau said after the vote that at least two board members will meet with Gray to set up guidelines for commemorative naming that will be brought back before the board to be voted on.

Annmarie Stanesa February 13, 2013 at 01:46 PM
Really? Anything for a dime? Poor decision making in the pursuit to balance the budget. How is that thinking of the community and the students Mr. Fiani?
Erika Warner February 13, 2013 at 03:15 PM
I don't have as much problem with Budweiser as I do with Marlboro... But neither is a name that should be associated with a middle school stadium.
Staci Bennett February 14, 2013 at 02:49 PM
This is absolutely ridiculous!! Fiana should have never been voted onto the Board. I think his tenure will be very short lived! Really?? Budweiser??? We are trying to steer our children away from smoking, drinking and drugs and you want to promote alcohol at a sporting venue or performing arts center?? Why don't you just put the beer can in their hand. It sounds as though you want to put the Brighton School District out for bid. I didn't know we were for sale. I'm sure there are other more politically correct ways to balance the budget. How about we put our thinking caps back on and find a way that will not make Brighton School District the laughing stock of Livingston County, or Michigan for that matter.
Nicole Krawcke February 14, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Mr. Fiani left this comment on Brighton Patch's Facebook Page: "To clarify, the quote was taken out of context. It is illegal for a school district to provide advertising for such a company that produces and distributes alcohol, so it would not even be an issue. I was supporting Mr. Trombley's remark regarding accepting a deal, such as Taco Bell Stadium, so the district could avoid continued pay cuts and layoffs of teachers."
Staci Bennett February 14, 2013 at 10:52 PM
Well I guess that just shows the lack of experience and immaturity that "Mr" Fiani has, and should have never been elected to the School Board at such a young age. He has no experience behind him to be able to handle such a position.

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