The former Oak Park Medical Complex will still be known by that name for at least a few more weeks, as the Hays USD 489 school board on Monday tabled discussion of changing the name of the future home of Early Childhood Connections.
The board will take up the subject again at its next meeting on June 22.
The list of suggested names in the agenda packet for Monday’s meeting included several additional suggestions for naming the facility for individuals:
• Emma Kolb, who taught in Hays starting at Lincoln Elementary School in 1951 and volunteered there for 22 years after her retirement in 1984. During her career, she received the Kansas Master Teacher Award and was inducted into the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame. She died in 2016 at the age of 98.
• Don Hurst, former USD 489 assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, who retired in 1992. He began his career in 1947 teaching in a one-room school house near Herndon.
• Nola Ochs, who became a Guinness World Record holder as the world’s oldest college graduate when she received a bachelor of general studies at Fort Hays State University in 2007 at the age of 95. She went on to receive a master’s degree from FHSU. She died in 2016 at the age of 105.
Superintendent Ron Wilson, on his first day on the job, said he had visited with Donna Hudson-Hamilton, director of ECC, earlier in the day, and urged the board to take its time in naming the facility.
“I think this would be, in my estimation, something where we need to process do we really want to rename something that maybe has already been branded. They’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their program,” he said.
Hudson-Hamilton told the board that considerable time was spent creating a name, mission and vision for ECC to bring the programs for children birth to age 3 and 3 to 5 together.
“I really don’t want to lose that identity,” she said.
“We still plan to call ourselves USD 489 Early Childhood Connections because that’s what’s on our grants,” she said.
Board member Luke Oborny asked if it would create problems with grants if the name was changed.
“It all depends on if you consider that just the name of the building or if you’re calling that the name of the whole program,” she said, giving Early Childhood Connections at Oak Park as an example.
Board member Sophia Rose Young asked how each of the four buildings was being referred to. Hudson-Hamilton said they were keeping the building numbers that had been in place when it was medical offices.
A Hays Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting scheduled for early August might be rescheduled for the fall, Hudson-Hamilton said, as the ECC staff might still be working with the Kansas Fire Marshal’s Office at that time on when it can take occupancy.