SKOWHEGAN — The Maine School Administrative District 54 board of directors learned Thursday night that 1,500 suggestions have come in so far as the district looks for a new team nickname and mascot for Skowhegan Area High School.

“The number of submissions has started to trickle down now,” Superintendent Brent Colbry said. “Our goal was to get a wide range of input.”

Colbry said the nickname suggestion forms are still available online and in paper forms in locations across the district, which comprises Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield.

The forms will be available until Feb. 24, according to Colbry.

Although there are many nicknames for the board to review, Colbry said he expects the suggestions will include several duplicates. He added the selection process is not weighted, so multiple submissions will only be counted once.

The process of soliciting ideas for a new team name is the start of a multistep process introduced by the MSAD 54 board last fall after the “Indians” nickname and mascot were retired in the spring.

Once this phase of the process is complete, administrative staff will review the submissions to eliminate any that conflict with the district’s standards, rules and policies.

The Support Services Committee and the Education Policy and Programming Committee will then review the suggestions, with each committee bringing five options forward for ultimate consideration.

From there, students in grades six through 12 will be given an opportunity to provide feedback.

After the students weigh in, the two school board committees will reconvene to review feedback before making a final recommendation to the MSAD 54 board, which will then vote on the finalists.

It is still unclear how long the rest of the selection process will take, according to Colbry, who suggested the board tackle the process “in chunks.” If a new mascot is selected, it will be implemented for the 2020-21 school year.

“I do not want to hear after the fact that people didn’t have the time to vote,” Board Chairperson Lynda Quinn has said.

In other matters, the board received an update on the plan to convert a multi-use bathroom into two single-stall, private restrooms.

Colbry said the project is “anticipated to be completed” by Feb. 24, when students return from vacation.

“If we say they’re going to be done at the end of February vacation, they need to be done,” Board member Dixie Ring said at the Jan. 28 Education Policy and Programming Committee meeting.

As of now, single-stall bathrooms are available for students to use in administrative offices and in the Somerset Career and Technical Center.

The plan, which Colbry presented Jan. 28 to the Education Policy and Programming Committee, calls for renovating a women’s bathroom.

Colbry’s plan seeks to remove the middle stall from the bathroom so a partition can be built, separating the two remaining stalls. A second door would be added to the second stall for separate entrances to two single-stall bathrooms.

Additionally, what is now a custodial storage closet would be converted into a private restroom, making three additional single-stall restrooms available by the end of February vacation.

Colbry also reminded the board Thursday that the bathroom in the lobby will also be renovated and made into a family restroom. The work, however, will be done this summer because it is part of a bond approved in November.

Colbry said the new, single-stall bathrooms will be given generic “Restroom” signs.

State law requires signs for private, single-stall restrooms cannot be limited to one gender, according to the Maine Human Rights Commission.

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