Education board discusses Miller-Driscoll name change

Board of Education member Lory Rothstein brought up the idea of renaming Miller-Driscoll School at the board’s May 11 meeting.

“With school construction quickly coming to an end, and with the start of a new school year — new beginnings in this beautiful new building — I thought that this might be prime opportunity for us to consider the name of the school,” she said.

This, Rothstein said, could be “a new opportunity to rename the school for the next generation of kids.”

“I was around during the time where we merged the two schools, and I wonder if at that time, both of the schools lost a bit of their own identity as to who they were — who they were named for,” she said.

“The signage on the schools used to be the Tilford W. Miller School and the Ina E. Driscoll School ... and a student or anybody could say, ‘Who was Ina?’ and ‘Tell me, who was that person?’ Now it’s just Miller-Driscoll.”

Rothstein said she questions if “the identity of who Miller and Driscoll were may have been lost” and “how much of the history the community recognizes now.”

The Tilford W. Miller School and Ina E. Driscoll School were physically united in 1990, according to the Miller-Driscoll website.

The Miller School was built first, dedicated in 1966, and named for Tilford W. Miller, who had served as town treasurer and 20-year chairman of the Board of Education.

Driscoll School was built to the south of Miller, dedicated in 1969, and named after Ina E. Driscoll, a Wilton teacher and principal from 1926 to 1957.

Board member Laura Schwemm said the school has a long history dating back to when it was once two separate schools, but “the current kids aren’t part of that history.”

Rothstein suggested letting the “new generation of kids” “create their own history.”

Board member Christine Finkelstein said a name change “may be hard for the town” and suggested “we just educate people on who Miller and Driscoll were.”

Rothstein said she has mentioned the idea to people in community, who have said the idea is an “interesting” one. She also asked Miller-Driscoll Principal Kathryn Coon if the Miller-Driscoll community had any “thoughts or feelings” about the idea.

Coon said she put the idea of a new school name out to the staff and that parents have had different reactions.

Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly questioned “how big of a problem” the board would be solving by renaming the school.

“On our list of priorities, is this something we want to take on?,” he said.

Miller-Driscoll was named after “people who were substantial figures in our history,” said Likly. “Do we want to erase that from the front of our buildings?”

Likly said he personally doesn’t care whether the name is changed or not because no matter the name, it’s still a great school.

Rothstein said she talked to First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice about renaming the school and Vanderslice told her it was the Board of Selectmen’s job to rename town buildings, “so there’s a fundamental question to be answered if we even go forward with this about what the process is for that.”

Likly said topic will be brought up again at a future meeting to figure out if the board will pursue changing the school’s name.

The board’s next meeting, scheduled for May 25, will be canceled or rescheduled, said Likly.

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