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District narrowing down new team name, mascot

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

A survey is asking the community to vote on a third option as a district committee works on coming up with a new name to replace “Indians” for RCS. File photo

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — The RCS school district is narrowing down the possibilities for a new team name and mascot, and is asking the community for help.

The district has released a third community survey to consider names to replace the school’s current moniker, the Indians, according to District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey.

Responses to the survey will be accepted by the district through Friday.

The change is required by the New York State Education Department for all team names that reflect Native Americans and their heritage.

If the district does not comply and make the switch, it will lose state funding and face other repercussions, including the loss of jobs for all district elected officials and board of education members.

For the RCS school district, the loss of state funding would amount to over $20 million a year.

Bailey said the district expects to complete the new name and mascot selection process by the fall of this year.

“By regulation, the district has until June of 2025 to complete all needed rebranding changes in and around their campuses,” Bailey said. “The new NYSED regulation does not require the destruction of memorabilia. Instead, it requires that schools utilize and actively promote the new name/mascot prior to June of 2025.”

The district completed a review of all the materials, equipment and facilities that would need to be changed, from “Indians” to the new name, and the estimated cost to replace them will be about $70,000.

“As a reminder, any district that fails to make the required changes will face the loss of state aid which, for RCS, totals over $20 million,” Bailey added. “Instead of taxpayer dollars, the district intends to utilize money from a beautification fund, provided through a local business, to pay for any needed changes to materials, equipment and facilities.”

The district established a committee consisting of members from across the community to come up with the process for selecting the new name.

Two community surveys have been conducted asking residents to narrow down the options of new names.

The second survey several weeks ago, which netted nearly 3,000 responses, asked participants to pick their top three choices from among 16 possible names and mascots.

The RCS Rebranding Advisory Committee, which is spearheading the effort, met last week and reviewed the responses to the second survey and are now looking to take things a step further.

“There were two clear favorites, ‘Raptors,’ with 1,445 votes, and ‘Ravens,’ with 1,509 votes,” according to the district. “However, the next seven favorites were all within 100 votes of each other.”

After “Raptors” and “Ravens,” the next seven favorites, in alphabetical order, were Bull Dogs, Eagles, Hornets, Panthers, RailRiders, Swarm and Yellow Jackets.

Those seven options each received between 486 and 579 votes. With the voting so close for a third option, the district is asking for clarity in what the community would like to see for a third choice when the final survey is taken this fall.

“Our next step is to reduce the last seven down to one clear third possibility for our final vote,” according to the district.

The fourth and final survey will be in September and will ask the community to select from among “Ravens,” “Raptors,” and the third option that will be chosen by the community in the third survey.

Responses to the third survey will be accepted through Friday, June 23.

To take the survey, visit https://www.rcscsd.org/article/1151744

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