Tar Heel Middle School is exploring the idea of uniforms for its students, and Principal Susan Inman presented the idea to the county school board at its first Monday meeting this week. Board members generally reacted positively, but had questions-particularly in regards to what parents of THMS students think of the proposal.
Inman told the board that her advisory board had endorsed the idea, as had about 75 percent of her students. Parents, though, have not been fully apprised and surveyed, but she told the board the school would do that with letters to the parents in the coming days, and she would report the results to the board at its April meeting.
Inman told board members that it is understood that there are both advantages and disadvantages to student uniforms, but indicated she and her leadership team at the school believe the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
The primary disadvantage, according to information provided in a packet of information to the board developed by Inman and her staff, is that some students may feel uniforms disallow individual self-expression. However, according to the information provided, "current examples of individual expression include mini-skirts, short shorts, sagging, as well as exposed cleavage, midriffs and boxers."
A uniform dress code, Inman suggested, would eliminate negative self-expression, and make it easier for teachers and students to focus on education.
Other advantages of uniforms, as listed by the school, would include a blurring of socioeconomic lines, an increase school spirit, the instilling of self-discipline, changing focus from fashion to learning, decreasing instances of "picking" or demeaning, make it easier to spot visitors or intruders on school grounds, and would provide a decrease in the overall cost of school clothes purchased by parents.
Inman told the board that the proposed uniforms would consist of khaki or black pants, shorts, skirts, or jumpers, and white or red collar shirts. No sleeveless blouses, v-neck T-shirts or tank tops would be allowed. Male students would be required to have their shirts tucked in at all times, and would be required to wear belts at all times to hold pants up to the waistline.
The principal explained that local stores had been asked about the cost of such clothing, and indications are that, generally, pants could be purchased for a maximum of $15 a pair and shirts for about the same price.
The school is aiming for generic apparel without logos.
The board took no action following the discussion, but promised to consider action at its next meeting after it has been presented further information and answers to some of its questions about the feelings of the parents who would be involved.
Inman told the board that if the idea can be approved, the school would like to implement it with the opening of the 2005 fall term.
"We would like to have our decision made before parents begin buying clothes for their children for the next school year," she said.
In other action Monday, the school board finalized and unanimously agreed to a lease with United Way and other agencies that will move into the school's Developmental Center property on Morehead Street in Elizabethtown. The agencies will rent the property for $500 a month, effective April 1.
The original lease is for 364 days, but is renewable, and the board can opt out of the agreement with a 90-day notice if it finds it needs the property.
In still another action item, the board moved its April meeting from the month's first Monday to the second Monday, April 11. The change was made because the school system will be on Easter break for the week prior to April 4.