Sunday, January 09, 2000

Middletown schools look into uniforms

Vail studies idea; Taft parents aboard

Enquirer Contributor

        MIDDLETOWN — Parents at a second Middletown school will be asked their opinion on starting a voluntary school uniform program.

        A nine-member committee has been formed by Vail Middle School's Parent Teacher Organization to seek comments from the parents of seventh- and eighth-graders at the school.

        “Many, many people have shown an interest,” said Kathy Venturella, president of Vail's PTO. “Our goal is to involve as many parents as we can.”

        The committee will send its first letter to parents by the end of the month. Subcommittees will look at uniform options, talk to local retailers and establish a fund for families who couldn't afford uniforms. The school's student council also will be asked for opinions.

        Earlier this fall, Taft Accelerated Elementary School polled its parents and found that 70 percent of 237 respondents were in favor of uniforms for the school's 380 students. Both schools' uniform committees hope to finish their work before school ends in June so the voluntary uniform program can begin with the 2000-01 school year.

        The move toward uniforms in public schools reflects a trend both locally and nationally. Cincinnati, Norwood and Hamilton have adopted uniform policies, with varying degrees of success.

        In Norwood, uniforms were piloted last year at Sharpsburg Elementary School. Later this year the school board will poll parents in the district before deciding whether to adopt uniforms for all elementary school children in the district. About 50 percent to 60 percent of students consistently wear the navy pants, skirts, jumpers, collared white shirts and spirit sweat shirts, Sharpsburg Principal Claire Kubiak said.

        Since uniforms were adopt ed, discipline problems have dropped by 30 percent at Sharpsburg, Ms. Kubiak said. Parents have told her they are spending less money to dress their children and there are few morning fights over what to wear to school.

        Seventh-grader Justin Frazer sees another reason to wear uniforms.

        “People won't be putting you down for the clothes you wear,” said Justin, 13. “You'll study more and get more done, look more at the teacher instead of what everybody's wearing.”

        In Hamilton, however, participation is waning in the district's voluntary uniform program for elementary students.


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