The Bryan County Board of Education voted 4-3 to table the uniform policy, at their regular meeting at BCES on Thursday, choosing instead to gather more information on the topic.
School officials say this ruling eliminates the chances of a uniform policy being enforced for the next school year but begins discussion for potentially instituting the policy for the 2008-2009 school year.
Board member Jeff Morton, who made the initial motion to table the policy, said he reviewed all of the emails that were recently sent to the board about the issue.
"About two-thirds of the emails were against having uniforms," Morton said. "I think there are still a lot of issues to hash out."
He pointed out that most those who responded in favor of the policy included suggested alterations to the proposed uniform guidelines.
He went on to say that the recent parent survey, which officials say brought about the presentation of this policy, did not have a section for parents to vote against it. He added the board should wait and observe what happens in Effingham County, which has just instituted uniforms.
"We need to give everyone more of chance to respond to it and understand the requirements before we revisit this for the 2008-2009 school year," Morton added.
Board member Billy Mock said he’d like to see the policy gradually introduced to the system, starting with grades 1-5.
He also agreed with complaints that it would be expensive for parents due to the fact that they would need to purchase uniforms in addition to their child’s extracurricular clothing.
Board member Joe Pecenka stated he also has struggled with the issue.
"I feel like the timing is not right if we want to make an educated decision on this," Pecenka said. "I personally would like a chance to get feedback from our faculty to see if the actual teachers who are enforcing this truly think this would have a positive effect on our learning environment or not."
BoE Chairman Eddie Warren said he also was in favor of tabling the policy in order to get more input from the community.
Board members Mary Warnell and Judy Crosby both spoke out in favor of the policy.
They each said that everyone has had ample time to give their input and it needs to be implemented now.
"You’re not gong to be able to please everybody all the time," Crosby said. "No matter how long you put it off, it’s still not going to come out even. You can table it and table it and table it, but the problem is not going away."
Warren, Morton, Pecenka and Mock voted to table the policy which outweighed votes to approve the policy by Warnell, Crosby and Vice Chairman Frances Meeks.
After the decision, Meeks stated, "I hope, in the meantime, parents see to it that students abide by the present dress code. That’s been a problem. Teachers have been forced to police the issue which hinders education, and I think that’s what was behind the uniforms. We’re looking forward to hearing more from parents...and students too."
Earlier in the evening, five parents spoke out against the proposed uniform policy during the public comment section of the meeting.
Jennifer Smith said, since the parent survey was taken a year ago, a large number of new residents have come to the area.
She requested of the board to reissue the survey to see if uniforms is still a potent issue. She also said she is a teacher in Chatham and "there really hasn’t been any benefits from the policy there. In fact, it’s been quite a few headaches."
Beth Walsh, a Chatham teacher who has children at Carver, expressed concern about not everyone receiving copies of the draft copy of the policy and about parents being able to afford "five sets of uniforms" in addition to their other clothing.
Joel Carter reiterated the affordability factor, stating "you are doubling the costs of my wardrobe expenses".
He also combated the idea that it will make it easier to spot intruders, saying that it is just as easy for intruders to purchase clothing within the uniform guidelines.
Carter, a six month resident of the county, said he experienced a uniform policy with the school system he just moved away from.
He said it is tough to shop for available required clothing when every kid in the county is buying up the same style. "It was the most frustrating thing we’ve ever had to do."
In other business:
-The following retiring teachers were recognized, which included a speech by their respective principals: Kathleen Harvey (BCHS), Vicki Dwinell (BCHS), Pam Arrington (Carver), Charles Moeller (RHHS), Marva Rogers (RHHS), Ruth Jackson (RHHS) and Charles Mitchell (Bryan Academy).
- The following BCMS stock market game winners were recognized: Tyler Rogers, Jenna Schuman, Sierra Newman, Hamanuel Williams, Tiffany Howard, Lorena Calderon, Sierra Cornell, Jared Haymans, D.J. Driggers and Corey Cook.
- BCMS student Lorena Calderon was recognized for having exemplary work displayed at the 2007 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference.
- BCES student Spencer Colello was recognized as the state winner in the competition to name a new "Litter, It Costs You" campaign mascot, sanctioned by the DNR.
- The following students were recognized for placing in the Southeast District 4-H Club competition: Donald Baracskay, Mara Bell, Taylor McFarland, Cara Thomas, Alana Walker, Dequan Lonon, Tevin Jackson and Naeemah Johnson.
- The following students were recognized for winning the system’s Young Georgia Authors’ Writing Competition for their respective grade levels: McKenzie Niemi (K), Kelly Futch (2), Jordan Moore (2), Rachel Shepard (3), Caroline Rowland (4), Amber Patterson (5), Elise Hartman (6), Tiffany Howard (7), Tracy Mears (8), Lindsey Sheffield (11) and Rachel Dixon (12).