The architect saw the building decoration as a plus sign. A local resident saw a cross. But you can't be too careful these days, so school officials in Toledo, Ohio, have asked the designer of a new elementary school to remove a series of cross-like symbols on the exterior of the gymnasium.
"The architect will submit a fix to the design; they have indicated it will be an easy fix," James Gant, chief business manager for Toledo Public Schools, told the Toledo Free Press
Call it addition by subtraction.
"As soon as we found out there were issues we got a copy of the plan design and talked to the architect about it; it was not the intent of the plan at all," Gant said. The design was to represent a plus sign.
Questions emerged about the design when a neighborhood resident, David Eichenberg, whose children will be attending the new Beverly Elementary School, posted a photo of the architectural feature at the Free Press' Facebook page on Jan. 23. (Eichenberg's photo includes some cross-shaped electrical towers in the background, but those apparently didn't register in the same way.)
Gant said he had not received any other complaints from parents or the community, but still thought it best to change the design.
"I appreciate the concern that was brought up and it does look that way and we need to be careful about that process of what we're doing," Gant told the Free Press
. "It's a legitimate concern, and it was not the intended design."
Still, it's not clear whether the changes will end the debate.
The Free Press Facebook posts
on the story are abuzz with debate over the cross/plus sign symbol, and Eichenberg has weighed in with some provocative comments that are only likely to keep the arguments going.
"How about a swastika. Can we stick that up on your church?" he wrote to one critic. "There is seperation [sic] of church and state in this country since the school in question is a public building the symbols in question can not appear on it. On a private school, fine, whatever floats your boat. Not a public school. It is against my civil liberties, that is what is wrong with it. Contrary to popular belief this is NOT a Christian country. Nor was it ever intended to be."
And they're off....