The Fort Smith School Board on Tuesday endorsed a measure that if approved again next month would remove the Rebel mascot and "Dixie" fight song from one of its schools.
The school district said in a statement that the board met as a committee of the whole and voted 6-0 in favor of the changes at Southside High School.
A statement on the district's Facebook page said the vote was taken while "giving great consideration to the continuing impact of perceived symbols of racism on the community, state and nation."
If approved by the same voters again at a full board meeting on July 27, the fight song would cease in the next school year. The Rebel mascot would be discontinued the year after.
The statement said the song and mascot have been in place since the school opened more than 50 years ago.
"The Board understands the challenges of changing what has come to be the tradition of the Southside High School community, and will work with the student body and staff over the next year to name a new mascot and fight song for the school," it said.
Dozens of comments were posted on the district Facebook page by 7 a.m. Wednesday. Some were in favor of the change, including two that called it "long overdue," but more were against it. Those opponents contended that it went against the school's tradition, that the mascot and song aren't racist or that the vote was taken without full community input.
"Now all you need to do is change the name to Politically Correct High School, name the sloth the new mascot and your job will be complete," wrote one of several commenters who had changed her profile photo to the Rebel mascot.
The move come as South Carolina considers removing the Confederate flag from its state Capitol in the wake of the fatal shootings of nine people at a historic black church by a white supremacist. Retailers including Wal-Mart and Amazon have also said in recent days they will stop selling the flag.