BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — If Gateway Middle School track members weren’t wearing the “M” on their purple and gold shirts, some of their opponents might not realize Gateway is a Maumee team.
“We know that sometimes in the greater Toledo area that the name Gateway is not always readily associated with the Maumee school district,” principal Angie Wojcik told the Maumee City Schools Board of Education during its April 24 meeting.
Nick Neiderhouse, principal of Wayne Trail Elementary, understands.
“We get calls in the office for Wayne Trace or Anthony Wayne Schools,” he said.
To clear up confusion and provide a more cohesive message within and outside the community, the board will consider changing the name of Gateway to Maumee Middle School and Wayne Trail Elementary to Maumee Intermediate during its Monday, May 22 meeting. Public comment is encouraged, said Superintendent Steve Lee.
“It’s primarily about branding, identity and unity,” Lee said, adding that he wants the community to be tied together with the Panthers logo, the Maumee name and its colors.
The discussion about name changes began about seven years ago, when the Buildings and Grounds Committee began planning upgrades to old signs, which still utilize letters that need to be manually changed. Both signs are deteriorating, and Wayne Trail features a dolphin that is no longer a mascot.
“The committee thought that if there’s a desire or a good reason to change the name, when we’re upgrading the sign is the time to do it,” Lee said.
Gateway Middle School earned its current name in 1971, when the district held a building-naming contest to change the name from Maumee Middle School, according to a Maumee Valley News article that district communications administrator Nancy Sayre dug up in the archives. The winner received a $25.00 savings bond and the signs were changed.
If the name reverts back to Maumee Middle School, the timing would coincide with the district’s move to the Northern Buckeye Athletic Conference and would further unify the athletic program for grades 7 to 12, Wojcik said.
“We only have one middle school in our district. All of our athletic teams are the Panthers, and we all wear purple and gold,” she added.
Wayne Trail became part of the mix in part because it’s not an elementary school like K-3 Fort Miami and Fairfield.
“We operate very much at an intermediate level where kids are cognitively, socially; and even our teaming format is much more of an intermediate setting as opposed to an elementary setting. It makes sense to me to have some intermediate title in there,” Neiderhouse said of the fourth- and fifth-grade building.
Historical research shows that there is no significance to the Wayne Trail name, Sayre added.
Teachers who were surveyed were divided when asked about options, including Maumee Intermediate School, Wayne Trail Intermediate School or remaining Wayne Trail Elementary.
Assistant Superintendent Matt Dick is working with the city to plan for the addition of electronic signs for the two schools, so the board will make a decision after hearing comments from teachers, students and families prior to the May 22 meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
During the meeting, the board also:
• Thanked Fifth Third Bank for a $530 check given to support the high school weight room project.
• Heard that 670 parents and children participated in the April 21 Under the Big Top Elementary Dance and 235 were served dinner by administrators and staff for a school fundraiser.
• Heard that the Panther Pride Foundation received $25,000 from ProMedica Toledo Urgent Cares for the Wednesday, May 3 Wayne Trail Literacy on the Lawn and the joint parent-teacher organization’s Saturday, May 13 color run.
• Thanked La Fiesta for providing meals to staff during testing weeks.
• Heard treasurer Paul Brotzki say that House Bill 1 looks like it won’t have enough votes to pass. The bill would have negatively impacted funding for school districts.
• Heard Dick say that MCS received a Connecting Schools to Law Enforcement $20,000 grant from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The grant will be used to purchase emergency buttons that are worn on a lanyard and programmed to immediately call for help when pressed by a staff member.
• Agreed to a 3-percent pay increase for non-certified and non-union staff members and administrators for the 2023-24 school year.
• Agreed to a three-year contract with the Maumee Education Association for July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2026, setting pay increases at 3.5 percent the first two years and 2 percent in the third year.
• Approved a $271,700 bid for Midwest Contracting to complete the Union School site improvement. Dick explained that the playground will be upgraded with more preschool-appropriate equipment on a rubberized surface, a concrete area for scooters, grass and fencing.
• Approved a new 2024-25 school year calendar.
• Accepted three books donated by Rotary Club of Maumee for Fairfield Elementary, including The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, PAX Journey Home and Evelyn Finds a Home.
• Approved the attendance of Kati O’Keefe to the APSI AP Chemistry Conference for New Teachers in Chicago, at a cost of $1,113.26.
• Approved the resignation of Joel Hefner, supervisor of Food Service and Transportation, effective July 31, and the hiring of Hefner as sixth-grade math teacher, at an annual pay rate of $92,537.