BELDING, Mich. (WOOD) — The school board in Belding voted unanimously Monday night to get rid of the district’s controversial Redskins mascot.
Last month, the Belding Area Schools Board of Education heard presentations from students and community members. After listening to concerns that the mascot is racist, it was recommended that the district change the name while keeping the school colors of black and orange.
At Monday’s regular board meeting, in front of an audience of less than 30 people, board members voted 7-0 to change the mascot.
It’s a push that began at the end of the last school year when parents asked the board to vote once and for all on the name. In the early 2000s, the board began transition away from the mascot logo and instead implemented an old English “B” to represent the schools.
“As we move forward, it’s been hidden even further and this parent group was just asking either bring the Redskins back and be proud and show it or move on,” Belding Area Schools Superintendent Brent Noskey explained to the audience Monday.
Noskey also urged the audience to maintain community pride, saying they’re proud of living in Belding, not of what they call themselves.
The change will take effect starting next school year. The board will start forming a detailed timeline at its January meeting for the process of selecting a new mascot. It will ask for student and community input.
The Redskins name has been a source of controversy for several years at three West Michigan districts — Belding, Saranac and Paw Paw. In 2015, the Saranac school board voted to keep the mascot based on consensus that was what the community wanted. The Paw Paw board is in the process of deciding what it is going to do and should make a final decision in February following meetings to get public input.