GREAT FALLS – The Great Falls Public Schools Board of Trustees took action on Monday night on the naming of two new elementary schools.
Roosevelt Elementary School, which is being rebuilt on the site of the old Lowell Elementary School (located along 5th Avenue North between 31st Street and 32nd Street); and Longfellow Elementary School, which is being rebuilt on its existing site.
Roosevelt is currently located at 2501 2nd Avenue North; Longfellow is located at 1100 6th Avenue South.
The Board unanimously voted to rename Roosevelt to Giant Springs Elementary School, a nod to the nearby Giant Springs State Park.
When it came time to choosing a name for Longfellow, however, there was some controversy.
Board trustee Don Ryan argued at the last two meetings that the new school should be named after former U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield.
Mansfield spent a number of his childhood years living in the same neighborhood as Longfellow Elementary School.
Ryan cited a number of Mansfield’s accomplishments, including being the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader; serving in World War I before he turned 18; serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Japan; and receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In a 6 to 1 vote, the board decided to keep the name Longfellow. Ryan said he could not support their decision, and said that he plans to resign from his position.
Ryan said he could not support their decision, and that he plans to resign from his position.
GFPS board chairman Jan Cahill said, “In order to be an effective board member you need to be able to support the actions of the board, even if they don’t necessarily comport with what you believe should be. He felt that the board had not made the correct decision in keeping the name Longfellow, and as a result announced that he was resigning from the board.”
The Board will officially act on Ryan’s resignation at their next meeting on Oct. 16.
Ryan told MTN that he will not rescind his resignation.