More than 1,400 voters showed up at a special town meeting on a warm summer evening Monday to have their say on what to call Hingham’s newest school. By better than 2-to-1, they rejected the school committee’s recent decision to name East Elementary School after Superintendent Dorothy Galo, a Hingham educator for 46 years.
What’s in a name?
Apparently plenty, because more than 1,400 voters showed up at a special town meeting on a warm summer evening Monday to have their say on what to call Hingham’s newest school.
Voters rejected the school committee’s recent decision to name the elementary school after Superintendent Dorothy Galo, a Hingham educator for 46 years.
As a result of a secret ballot vote of 1,022 to 427, the school will become East Elementary School, and the building’s library will carry Galo’s name.
“I was surprised by the margin,” school committee Chairwoman Christine Smith said after the results were announced. “We will now have to move on.”
The committee drew criticism from some residents who said taxpayers should have a say in what to name the $26.6 million school.
Interest in the issue was so great that both the high school gym and auditorium were filled. Voters in the auditorium watched the proceedings on a large screen.
Before the debate, which lasted more than two hours, Galo for the first time spoke publicly about the controversy that had ignited passions on both sides.
“I wrestled for weeks whether to speak this evening,” Galo began.
Galo, who has been superintendent since 2001, said she has been “dismayed, embarrassed and distraught” by the personal attacks leveled at her in blogs.
“I just felt humiliated and hurt,” she said. “It certainly has felt very, very personal.”
Galo, a lifelong Hingham resident, said she was saddened that the school committee was being second-guessed in its decision. She then left the building before the discussion began.
Aberdeen Road resident Peter Finney, who spearheaded the petition drive calling for a special town meeting to decide the issue, said there never was any intention to denigrate Galo.
“I hold Dr. Galo in the highest esteem,” Finney said. “We are all deeply grateful for her service to Hingham schools.”
Smith, the school committee chairwoman, told voters that reversing the committee’s decision would set an unfortunate precedent.
“Do we want to have a town meeting every time a group doesn’t like an elected board’s decision?” she said.
In urging voters to reject renaming the building East Elementary School and keep Galo’s name, Smith said it was “the right thing to do.”
School committee member Caryl Falvey said the committee felt Galo’s career in education warranted attaching her name to the school.
“Dr. Galo has proven her dedication to this town time and time again,” Falvey said. “Please don’t take this recognition away from her.”
Voters also decided that the school committee will need town meeting approval in the future before naming any other school building.
Patriot Ledger writer Dennis Tatz may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.