"I'm not doing this because Dennis is a good guy," said Sandborn at the July 12 board meeting about his move to name the school the Dennis L. Goettsch Medical Magnet School. He said he was doing it to recognize the superintendent's efforts to make the school a reality.
When board member Gary Agopian asked for discussion of the other names that had been submitted by the public in response to a request to name the new school, Sandborn said simply, "There's a motion on the table."
Board member Joyce Seelinger seconded the motion, but did not vote in favor of it. And neither did any of the other board members except Sandborn. The motion failed 1-4.
Before making his motion, Sandborn read from a list of names submitted by the public that included health heroes like Florence Nightingale and Jonas Salk as well as geographical names such as Diablo Vista, Diamond and Sand Creek. The name of Joseph Libby, a local doctor, was also submitted.
"I want to hear more about Doctor Libby," said Agopian. He also pointed out that board policy prohibits naming anything after a district employee until 10 years after the end of employment. Goettsch is due to retire July 31 but has agreed to stay on until a replacement is selected.
When Agopian suggested that a task force be formed to come up with a list of names, Sandborn said, "We have enough task forces."
"I'm against having a public meeting to choose a name," said Seelinger.
"I'm not against it (naming the school after Goettsch)," said board member Claire Smith, but she sided with Agopian that there be more deliberation over the name of the new school. She suggested one of the school buildings, such as a study hall, could be named after Goettsch.
In the awkward and tense session - as Goettsch sat there listening to the debate - there was one light moment. Sandborn revealed that the initial "L" for Goettsch's middle name stood for Lloyd and Goettsch said, "Thanks for sharing." Otherwise, he had to listen to the debate over naming a school for him that he has said is his proudest accomplishment.
Board member Walter Ruehlig, who agreed with Agopian, wrote via e-mail in response to a reporter's query, "... with no disparaging Mr. Goettsch's 32-year contribution, the Baseball Hall of Fame has a five-year post-retirement cooling off period and the Catholic Church requires many years to navigate the status hoops of virtue-venerable-beatification-canonization. It boils down to a question not of deserving but of appropriateness."
The anonymous medical-oriented magnet school is due to open for the 2007-08 school year.