Board majority rejects ‘Madera North’ name
With all of the drama of an Academy Awards night, Madera Unified trustees chose to name the district’s new high school after the late Matilda Torres, long-time high school counselor and highly esteemed community member.
The final, unanimous vote came just minutes after a previous try to name the new facility, which will be located at Road 26 and Martin Street, Madera North High School.
Tuesday night’s vote was held in front of more than 80 people who had filled the boardroom at 6:30 p.m. and patiently waited for trustees to return from a closed session and begin the public meeting. At 9 p.m. the board entered the final phase in the process to give the new school its name.
Assistant Superintendent Sandon Schwartz presented the board with a list of six names that had survived two cuts to become finalists. They were Donald J. Trump, John F. Kennedy, Madera North, Madera North High School at Matilda Torres Educational Center, Matilda V. Torres, and Ronald Reagan.
Each board member was then instructed to choose three names from the list and rank them one, two, and three.
The staff then tabulated the results and gave each of the finalists a numerical value based on the rankings of the trustees. The top three names and their standings were then announced — Madera North got 10 points, Matilda V. Torres got 8 points, and Madera North High School at Matilda Torres Educational center got 7 points.
With George Torres, Matilda Torres’ husband, sitting on the front row with their children, the action began as Trustee Ricardo Arredondo made the first move.
Before making a motion, Arredondo sought to explain his position. He said he was “touched by the passion and dedication that has come in this campaign from the Matilda Torres family. The legacy that she lived lives on in the testimony that has been given for the last several months.”
Arredondo went on to say, “I was not in favor of naming the elementary school (Virginia Lee Rose) after a community member. There are many who have served in a great capacity in our district. For me, it is difficult to name a facility for one member and not for the others who are equally deserving.”
“Although I am in favor of and in support of memorializing her (Matilda Torres) work in the community, I am just not in favor of naming the new high school after her).”
Citing its numerical score, Arredondo then moved to name the new high school Madera North. His motion was seconded by Trustee Ruben Mendoza. In the roll call vote that followed, Arredondo and Mendoza were joined by Clerk Ed McIntyre in voting in the affirmative. Negative votes were cast by trustees Brent Fernandes, Ray Seibert, and Maria Velarde-Garcia. The tie was broken by President Al Galvez, who cast a dramatic “no” vote and set the stage for another round.
Trustee Velarde-Garcia made the motion to name the new school Matilda Torres High School, and she got a second from Seibert. The roll call vote was unanimous in the affirmative to the delight of the family and friends of Matilda Torres who were in attendance.
Galvez called for a recess for the family and the crowd to exchange emotional congratulations.
Matilda Torres High School is scheduled to open in 2019.