Published in the October 22, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
NORTH READING — The School Committee has agreed to name a portion of the new North Reading Middle School in honor of retired Middle School Vice Principal Charles Jones, but the school board decided against renaming the school’s Main Street corridor in honor of Jones.
“Main St.” is the name given to the broad, two–story corridor that connects the school’s gymasium, cafeteria, media center and performing arts center with the high school academic classroom wing.
Thirteen local residents expressed their support for renaming the Main Street corridor in honor of Jones at a recent School Committee meeting last month. The latest proposal came a year after a citizens’ petition appeared on the 2014 October Town Meeting warrant, which sought to rename NRMS the Charles E. Jones Middle School.
While the 13 local residents were enthusiastic and passionate about renaming Main Street after Jones, the School Committee was not in favor because the corridor has been already named and signs donated by the Class of 2015 have been installed. Committee members also did not favor the proposal because Main Street is primarily located in the high school.
“I don’t think the committee wants to name Main Street after anybody, including Charlie Jones,” said School Committee member Jerry Venezia.
While the School Committee nixed the Main Street request, committee members agreed to honor Jones. Venezia proposed naming the middle school corridor connecting the secondary schools in his honor.
Additionally, the School Committee expressed its support for installing a plaque and signage to recognize Jones’ dedication to North Reading students as a teacher and administrator for 38 years.
“He was a mentor for many young people,” said Venezia. “I think it’s important for the school and important for Charlie. It would be a real nice tribute to him.”
School Committee Vice Chairman Mel Webster agreed.
“What I would like to see is a plaque on Main Street that is similar to the plaque we have for (former varsity basketball coach and gym teacher) Barry Kipnes, which would tell the story for Charlie Jones,” said Webster.
Webster also said he supports installing a sign identifying the middle school corridor as either “Charlie E. Jones Boulevard or Charlie Jones Way.”
School Committee Chairwoman Janene Imbriano floated the idea of naming the collaborative space next to the robotics lab after Jones.
“There are other options out there,” said Imbriano.
A disappointed Mark Favreau, who led the effort to rename both Main Street and NRMS after Jones, said “it’s up to the School Committee to bring a proposal forward that would be voted on at Town Meeting.”
The school department’s policy on naming school facilities stipulates a school facility can only be named after a person if a majority of School Committee members support the proposal as well as Town Meeting voters.
After a discussion, the School Committee decided to postpone naming a middle school facility in honor of Jones until the right location can be identified. In the meantime, the school board tapped Venezia to serve as the liaison between the School Committee and Jones’s supporters.
“We will come back with a specific recommendation for the vote,” said Venezia.
“Or a couple of things,” Webster added.