Northside Elementary will retain its name after the El Campo ISD school board voted 2-4 against renaming the school after Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez Tuesday night, with school board Secretary Kevin Wied absent.

Ed Erwin sponsored the motion to rename Northside with the provision that costs related to the process come from private donations and that no district money be used. Rich DuBroc seconded the motion.

“I do strongly believe that a local Medal of Honor recipient is worthy of an elementary school named after him,” Erwin said. “Especially because of his repeated stance on how important it is to get an education.”

The Northside cafeteria was filled with attendees Tuesday night; a mix of supporters and opposers of the renaming. After the decision, many attendees shook the school board’s hands.

El Campoan Leonard Sternadel, a retired Army Sgt. Major was pleased with the outcome.

“There are far too many veterans who died in foreign countries,” Sternadel said. “We need to do something for them.”

One of three of Benavidez’ children, Yvette Benavidez Garcia, said she was not discouraged by the board’s decision.

“This just means that his name is meant for something bigger,” Garcia said.

Before the school board voted, locals in favor of renaming Northside after Benavidez, including the eldest of his three children, Denise Prochazka, El Campo Middle School student Juliana Vasquez and City Council Member Chris Barbee shared their sentiments. Each was allowed two minutes to speak.

“It just hurts my heart to see people, especially fellow soldiers who have a duty to not leave their own behind, leaving Roy behind,” Barbee said.

Erwin said he would like to work with veterans in the future to come up with a list of fallen heroes who attended local public schools.

“Take the H building in El Campo High School,” Erwin said. “Does that really mean anything to anybody? Can we put somebody’s name on it who died for our country and was local?”

Currently, no other ECISD facilities are being considered for renaming, according to School Board President James Russell. To do so requires a petition with signatures from at least 15 percent of registered district voters. A naming committee would then have to recommend naming options to the board for consideration.

Garcia addressed those who opposed renaming Northside.

“I would like those people to step forward, and let’s see what they have in mind for this town and all of the veterans,” Garcia said.

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