Elementary school name whittled to 3

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comOctober 20, 2012 

The naming of Los Banos' newest elementary school is in the hands of the school board.

Last week an eight-member committee submitted three names -- Mercey Springs Elementary, College Greens Elementary and Harvest Elementary -- for consideration. The Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees is expected to make a decision at its October meeting.

Paula Mastrangelo, area administrator for elementary education, coordinated the committee. She said the public submitted 32 names. Mastrangelo emphasized that "Mercey" springs would be the correct spelling of the new school even though some portions of the road are spelled "Mercy" without the "e." Committee member Mary Gonzalez researched the name.

According to Gonzalez, the springs near Los Banos were shown to John N. Merci by American Indians near the turn of the 20th century. Merci, who was an immigrant, changed his name to Mercy. The name "Mercey" was later used as a name for the bottled water that came from the springs.

"I always felt the "E" should be there," said Trustee Colleen Menefee, who indicated her support for Mercey Springs Elementary School.

Trustee Henry Smith said the naming committee made the correct spelling choice.

"It's 'E-Y' on the street the school site is on," he said.

Trustee Andree Soares said the spelling issue is likely overblown.

"I don't think they (the public) care," she said.

School board President Chase Hurley did not state a preference, instead saying that the board will make a choice at its next meeting.

Superintendent Steve Tietjen said that by next month the district should be able to "officially" call the facility Mercey Springs Elementary. He later clarified his statement, saying the school board will make the final decision.

The school will be located at the former Merced College, Los Banos Campus in the 16000 block of Mercey Springs Road. The facility will open in 2013 to alleviate the district's overcrowding problem.

The district will keep one building on the campus, which previously was used as a preschool, and it will demolish or sell the other structures and replace them with pre-fabricated classrooms that will be made off-site.

Tietjen said the new campus will ease overpopulation at the elementary school level.

"All the other school sites will have some vacancies," he said. "Opening an elementary will give us some breathing room for a couple more years. The challenge will be next year we'll have 1,540 students at the junior high. We don't see this challenge going away."

The student population at the new elementary school will consist of 125 students from Los Banos Elementary; 70 from Westside Union; 60 from R.M. Miano; 60 from Henry Miller; 50 from Lorena Falasco; 50 from Volta; and 45 from Charleston Elementary.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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