ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County School Board will soon begin polling the parents in regards to adopting school uniforms as a requirement for grades K-5. If adopted, the new policy could go in affect as early as next year.
“They are not saying they are going to uniforms and they are not saying they are not going to do it,” Public Relations Director Valerie Newton said of the board’s discussion at its Monday meeting.
According to Newton, the board has sent the item back to the individual school advisory council to poll the community.
Board member Ophelia Munn-Goins brought the issue to the attention of the board in July and it was placed on the agenda as a discussion item. No action was taken during Monday’s meeting, said Newton.
“I think they are looking at it more for financial reasons as a way to help the parents,” said Newton. “We’ve not had any discipline problems or academic problems that are occurring due to how the students are dressing.”
In other school districts where uniforms have been instituted, there were problems with students not abiding by the student handbook in terms of how they dressed, according to Newton.
The board has not discussed how the uniforms will be furnished or how they will be financed, said Newton.
“In most school systems who are doing it, they enter into a contract with a uniform company. The parents then purchase the uniforms through the school, they can go online on the Internet or sometimes a local department store will carry them,” said Newton.
According to outgoing board member John Clark III, this is not the first time the board has discussed the possibility of going to school uniforms.
“Either last year or the year before, Tar Heel Middle volunteered to be a pilot for school uniforms,” said Clark.
According to Clark, the main issues that have come up are who would fund uniforms for the children who simply can’t afford them, and how the board would handle students whose families refuse to comply.
“I don’t have a problem with it if we can resolve the problem of who will fund the kids whose parents simply can’t afford it,” said Clark.
There are pros and cons to going to a uniform policy, according to Clark.
“With a uniform-type approach, it will prevent kids from battling to out-dress each other and prevents students from wearing something that might be considered offensive,” said Clark.
Clark said he is not a big proponent of the idea, but he is not totally against the idea either.
“I’d like to hear what the parents have to say,” said Clark.
According to Newton, the measure has been sent to the individual school advisory boards for discussion and input.
As of press time, messages left for Munn-Goins were not returned.