NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

August 21, 2013

Committee keeps Bresnahan as name

'Overwhelming community support' made choice clear, members said

NEWBURYPORT — A large outpouring of public support in favor of keeping the current Bresnahan School name proved to be the deciding factor Monday in the School Committee’s 4-3 vote to retain it.

Construction of a new K-3 elementary school on the current site of the Bresnahan School is slated for completion in the fall of 2014. The present Bresnahan facility was renamed 20 years ago in honor of superintendent Francis T. Bresnahan, who died while still serving in that position in 1993.

Students from the Brown School on the south side of the city will also move into the new school upon its opening as the existing building will be closed.

Earlier this month, the School Committee had issued a call for public feedback on the matter of naming the new elementary school — and they received it. Pointing to the large show of public support, members said the choice was clear.

New superintendent Susan Viccaro, who was hired in June, made the recommendation to keep the Bresnahan name unchanged due to an “overwhelming” number of community responses.

“Because I’ve been here only six weeks, I can only base my recommendation on the data,” she said. “I’m amazed at the number of responses I’ve gotten on this issue. Sixty-two of the emails I received favored keeping the name and two were for changing it.”

Mayor Donna Holaday, who serves as chairwoman, also acknowledged that strong public support in favor of the current name made the decision clear.

“The amount of letters, emails, and phone calls I’ve received has been astounding,” she said. “I have well over 140 emails that favor keeping the name. It’s very obvious it has overwhelming community support.”

Vice-chairwoman Cheryl Sweeney said she has never seen any other issue garner as much response from residents.

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