Union County Public Schools has budgeted $160,272 to change the mascot on Parkwood High School sports uniforms and facilities from Rebels to Wolf Pack.
The school board approved the mascot change last month, but the question remained: Who would pay for it? UCPS staff suggested the money come from unused bond funding previously allocated for Parkwood.
The recommendation appeared on the school board’s Dec. 1 consent agenda, which consists of routine items usually approved unanimously; however, member Gary Sides pulled the item out for an individual vote.
“I can not support the expenditure of $160,000 for that effort,” Sides said.
The majority of the board felt differently than Sides.
The board voted in July to eliminate Rebels due to its connection to slavery and allowed Parkwood to choose a new mascot. Board members encouraged Parkwood to maintain the less controversial sword logo as a cost-saving measure, but students opted for a Wolf Pack mascot, instead.
The Rev. Jimmy Bention said Parkwood did everything that the school board asked of the school.
“This community has had enough to deal with,” Bention said. “We asked it, they complied. Let’s give them peace and approve this measure.”
Vice Chair Kathy Heintel agreed.
“We need to make it right,” Heintel said. “We need to give them the money to do what they need to do with their new mascot and their new logo.”
The district took an inventory of all the instances in which the Rebels nickname or logo appears on uniforms and facilities.
The football field, for example, has mentions on the scoreboard, goalpost padding, pregame tunnel, statue made by shop class, fencing and signage at the press box and band seating. Other places you can find the logo or nickname include the baseball field, softball field, old and new gyms, wrestling room, weight room, track, team rooms, cafeteria and parking lot.
The outdated nickname or logo can be found on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball jerseys, as well as football helmet decals, wrestling and cross country singlets, baseball hats, golf bags and lacrosse skirts.
The varsity volleyball team has new jerseys in blue and white that have never been worn, according to district notes.
The total cost includes $67,000 for uniforms, $81,400 for facilities and $11,872 for contingency. The remainder consists of taxes and shipping.
Chair Melissa Merrell credited Principal Carole Alley for the work the school’s renaming committee did to ensure every student had an opportunity to participate in selecting a new mascot.
“They are going to be the Parkwood Pack because that community feels that they stick together,” Merrell said. “Through good times, bad times, whatever, they work together as a pack. They stick together and support each other. I think they have made a fine choice.”