Due to the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. and other issues such as bullying, the local school system is considering going to uniforms. This issue was among the many topics discussed at Tuesday night’s Tift County Board of Education work session.
Superintendent Patrick Atwater informed members that he has had several conversations with people in the school system concerning student uniforms. He said they are at a point where it needs to be re-discussed. He stated that with uniforms, staff could better identify who enters their school.
Atwater noted that he has done some search on other school systems that have a student uniform policy, as well as places that have access to uniform providers.
Board member Rita Griffin stated that the board is not intending to take away from students, only to ensure their safety. She added that she has also done a lot of research within the last week. She said uniforms will also help discipline students, but most importantly, the main intent is their safety.
Griffin told members that she would like for them to form a committee to discuss the issue more. The main concern with having uniforms is what would they do for those students who couldn’t afford it, she noted. She said they could ask uniform providers to support a school to supply some materials.
Ideas for the uniforms include a white shirt, khaki pants, school colors, etc.
Board member Gannon Hall said he’s not against school uniforms, but he doesn’t want them to be a false alarm of security. Griffin noted that uniforms will be helpful in identifying who walks through the schools’ doors, as well as help with putting a stop to a lot of bullying. Hall and other members agreed.
Board member John Smith mentioned that a parent’s son would not wear a particular shirt because it wasn’t a brand name item. He noted that some students pick on other students due to that.
Griffin added, “[Uniforms] will make it more difficult for gangs.”
Atwater stated, “It forces them more underground.”
If the board does decide to enforce uniforms, Griffin stated that students wouldn’t have to wear them every day. She said they would have a dress-down day.
Atwater stated that he conducted a survey where out of 18 people, 10 said yes to uniforms, four said maybe and four said no.
He also noted that another reason that prompt the conversation of uniforms was Coach John Reid, who has done a great job at having his students dress out for physical education.
He said if the board decides to go through with the idea of school-wide uniforms, the decision would have to be made quickly.
Also, during the work session, the board discussed the 2013-2014 school calendar, which members were provided with three options to look over. Atwater noted that each calendar has 176 days of instruction with the option of having three, six or 10 furlough days. He stated that there is still a lot of unanswered questions and they’re currently not at the point to make a recommendation. He said they’re prepared to make any tweaks to the options. While discussing the calendars, Atwater noted that pre-kindergarten is recommended to go back to a full 180 days next year.
More on the work session will be provided in an upcoming article.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.