KEYPORT — The board of education will vote at Wednesday night's meeting on changing the Red Raider mascot.

According to the agenda, the item is the only one listed under old business: Motion to retain the current mascot. The name of the team is not at issue, it's the Native American imagery used in conjunction with the name.

At its last meeting, the board took comments from the community about making a change to the mascot or the name. Superintendent Lisa Savoia said about 60 people spoke before the board, mostly members of the Keyport Football Alumni Association who are in favor of keeping the mascot as is. Savoia said it was a "very passionate group of individuals" who spoke at the meeting.

Raising the objection is 1994 Keyport High School graduate Aaron Bowers, who is not Native American and is black.

"I'm not sure how the board will vote, I know the odds are stacked against me," Bowers wrote in an email. "I just forwarded the school board a letter from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape expressing their displeasure in the school mascot." He did not provide a copy of the letter to New Jersey 101.5.

KFAA president Phil Santiago said any outcome is possible.

"We shared our concerns for anything changing. The board shared their concern about the imagery but it wasn't clear if (the board) was looking at one thing or the other," Santiago said.

Santiago said he hopes many supporters of the status quo attend the meeting.

Savoia has not yet returned a call about Wednesday night's meeting.

Former board member and former Keyport Mayor John Merla, who does not want to make a change, told New Jersey 101.5 he thinks it will be a tight vote.

"I have people with Native American roots coming to the meeting and they're going to speak out against changing it. They don't feel offended, and they don't feel slighted and they don't feel like its a racial issue," Merla said.

He is also concerned that there are no current Keyport High alumni on the board.

The board's meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the Keyport High School gym.

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