Whether the impending Bryan County school uniform policy is a good idea or not depends on who you ask.
One thing is for certain – parents and students across the board have some very strong opinions about it.
Love it or hate it, the policy appears to be on a fast track to be implemented. A second reading of the policy will take place at the April 26 BoE meeting with the actual clothing guidelines to be decided before that.
If all goes according to plan, the policy will be realized on April 26 and will subsequently be enforced next school year.
School officials are encouraging residents to voice their opinions on the topic by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BoE Chairman Eddie Warren said all emails received by April 16 will be compiled into a report that school officials will be reviewing to assist them in rendering a decision later this month.
Some parents were quick to point out that the one week made available for comments coincides with spring break, a week that many are out of town. The short length of this timetable received criticism as well.
School superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer defended the short duration, stating, "one of the biggest concern parents have expressed is that they need plenty of notice whenever the policy comes about."
She added that the cut-off time includes the first full day back, this coming Monday. Shortly after Monday, she and the principals will meet, look over all the emails and letters received on or before Monday, and ultimately decide on the guidelines of the required clothing. These guidelines will be presented to school board members on April 26 at their regular meeting at BCES as they decide whether or not to implement the uniform policy. If the majority of the board members vote to approve the policy, it will be a done deal and take effect next school year.
"I love it," said middle and high school parent Terry Sherman. "My kids want $75 jeans, and this would eliminate stuff like that. My kids tell me it will take away their identity and make them look like clones, but it will make it a lot easier from a parent standpoint."
Sherman did add there should be a bit variety as far as the color of shirts than the suggested white, red, gold or navy, adding "some of those colors would just look tacky. What about black?"
"This policy is ridiculous," said middle school parent Laura Gray. "The administration is already so militaristic in enforcing the dress code, and uniforms will make it even more difficult. Let teachers teach, and let parents dress their kids."
"I think it’s perfect," said parent Jennifer Sotomayor. "It will create a unity among the kids where they won’t be made fun of because of what they wear."
"It will create less stress when it comes to shopping," said Pauleen Phifer, who has kids in the primary, middle and high school levels. "None of my kids care for it though."
Middle school parent Linda D’Ato said she doesn’t mind it, but thinks that the affected high school seniors should be grandfathered out of having to comply. Meanwhile, her son Vincent, a RHMS student, animatedly voiced his opinion against the policy.
RHMS parent Michelle Adams combats the economic reasons school officials and some parents are touting, saying "We’re (parents) still going to have to buy them the same casual clothes for when they’re not in school. Now we’re going to have to buy a bunch of other clothes on top of that. It’s going to cost more money when they approve this policy."
"I don’t see what we’ve done wrong to deserve this," said RHMS student Tyler Gammell. "If there has been any incident to result in punishing us this way, I don’t know about it. They can’t stop us from making a fashion statement or expressing ourselves. We’re still going to find a way to do that."
While some are critical of the limited amount of variety the suggested policy offers, high school parent Nancy Baker said "there should be even fewer choices; otherwise it becomes a suggestion rather than a uniform. I’m all for a uniform…as long as it’s not polyester."
"Having a uniform policy during the high school years would be, in my opinion, more degrading than beneficial," said parent Terri Jarrell. "We allow high school students to drive to school, have jobs after school, and make decisions regarding college and vocations. We treat them as adults in many areas. Should not what they wear also be their decision as long as it does not disrupt instructional time or create a safety hazard?"
"If I wanted uniforms, then I would send my kids to private school," Jarrel continued. "The cost alone for a family to purchase uniforms within a small amount of time could be substantial. What would happen to those that cannot afford clothing? Would the BOE be forced to issue vouchers so that clothing could be obtained at a reduced rate? Uniforms take away my right as a parent as to what to purchase for my kids."
To review the suggested uniform policy and to voice your opinion on it, go to www.bryan.k12.ga.us and click the red box on the lower left hand side of the home page marked "Uniform Comments".