Sir Francis Drake High School considers name change

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Stasia Winslow

A hot-button topic in the San Anselmo community right now is the potential name change of Sir Francis Drake High School, which is temporarily being called High School 1327 after its address on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. 

Calls to change the name began in the early summer months, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained national attention and prompted people to rethink their responsibility to the Black members of their communities. Renaming a school that honored the legacy of Sir Francis Drake, a man who participated in the slave trade, became the focus for many members of the Marin community. 

The Drake Leadership Council (DLC) at High School 1327 is a committee of faculty and students that will determine the results of the name change initiative. 

Dan Freeman, a social studies teacher and member of the DLC at High School 1327, believes that this change cannot be put off any longer. 

“Black people in the US have always been told by white society that change is coming and to be patient. It is always the right time to do the right thing,” Freeman said. 

Ava Podboy, a senior at High School 1327, also said that “I also feel that with the name change should come systematic changes within our curriculum to better inform all students on how to be allies to the BIPOC community.” 

A major issue that has arisen in the process so far is that it will take an estimated $430,000 to complete the change, as new uniforms, signs and other miscellaneous alterations would need to take place. The Tamalpais Union High School District has said that no public funds will be used, and instead the change will have to be financed privately. 

When asked about the specific finances of the project, Freeman said, “there are foundations that provide grants for this kind of change as well, but community members like myself will be doing all the work on that”. 

While the cost of the name change would be privately funded via donations and foundations, there are worries that miscommunication could impact a proposed parcel tax for the TUHSD that is on the ballot in November, Measure M. 

Cynthia Kula is a HS 1327 parent and board member of The Drake Fund, a parent-run organization that raises money for the school. 

“The Tam Union High School District has explicitly stated that the district will not pay for the name change, but I fear not all voters will get that message,” she said.

The DLC is currently determining how to proceed with the name change and are offering public forums.