INDIAN TRAIL – The Indian Trail Arts & Historical Society has offered to install a sculpture to honor former Indian Trail Elementary School principal George Miller on campus, but leaders at Union County Public Schools have several concerns.
Miller, who died Oct. 6 at the age of 77, served as principal of the school in the 1970s and 1980s.
Dave Burnette, facilities director for UCPS, told the school board’s facilities committee Nov. 19 that the society had good intentions, but he acknowledged concerns over safety, liability, maintenance and repairs, should the art be vandalized.
“Vandalism is a concern because then we have to somehow repair it and then, are we even capable of repairing it?” Burnette said.
There’s also the precedence of other schools adding similar installations. The 10-foot abstract sculpture is intended to be a waving hand.
“Abstract art is certainly up for interpretation,” Burnette said. “We know as we are a public body, we’re dealing with public perception and interpretations all the time. We try to guard ourselves from any negative opportunities. It’s abstract art. Some people are not going to like it.”
District officials aren’t aware of other principals being enshrined with sculptures at any of its 53 schools, however, at least a couple have had benches dedicated in their honor.
“When it comes to groups that want to come onto the school and do projects on our school grounds, it always brings up, who is going to maintain that?” board member Kathy Heintel said.
School officials also worry children may get hurt trying to climb onto the sculpture or try to damage it by throwing objects.
Board member Melissa Merrell said she thought the sculpture could be a challenge on school property, but she mentioned other places in town that it may be a safer choice, such as the new town hall.
Mark Strickland, assistant superintendent for administration and operations, said he told the society he’d like to see something more concrete before the district makes a decision.
“Dave and I are not used to dealing in the abstract but in the concrete, so we are not comfortable yet about the structure and what’s proposed,” Strickland told the committee.