The recent state inspector general’s recommendation that Newton seek bids for a school naming rights campaign appears to have stalled the controversial fund-raising effort.
City officials said there are no immediate plans to request bids from organizations interested in running a naming rights campaign. And as both the city’s Board of Aldermen and School Committee calendar slows down for the summer, the issue is unlikely to be taken up for weeks.
“We’re in the early stages of how a naming campaign would work,” said Mayor Setti Warren, who has supported such a campaign. “There’s no plan to put anything out to bid.”
Even the Newton School Committee, which has backed the naming rights campaign and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Newton Schools Foundation to manage the effort, is taking a slower approach.
“The naming rights initiative has a lot of complexity that we are sorting out,” said School Committee Chairwoman Claire Sokoloff in an e-mail. “We haven’t made any decisions yet about next steps.”
The Newton Schools Foundation has proposed selling the naming rights to school spaces, such as athletic fields, science labs and classrooms, to raise as much as $6 million in three years for technology infrastructure and teacher training.
Supporters of the idea have argued that it would help outfit Newton’s schools with much needed but expensive equipment. But some aldermen and residents have balked at the idea of putting names of high-dollar donors on public school facilities and have raised questions about whether the foundation is best equipped for such a campaign.
The state’s inspector general reviewed the plan at the city’s request recently and determined that Newton should competitively bid out the work.
The foundation had hoped to launch the technology campaign, with the sale of naming rights as a major component, in the fall.
The foundation is still interested in bidding for the campaign, but is waiting for the city to make a decision about the next step, said Rick Iacobucci, the foundation’s executive director.
“We are on hold,” Iacobucci said. "We understand things happen."
The foundation can still launch a fundraiser without using the sale of naming rights as an incentive for big donors, but it’s unlikely to raise as much money, Iacobucci said.
“There will be a campaign, the question is whether the campaign will include naming rights,” he said.
Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org