TPS makes uniform transitionWritten by Matt Zapotosky | | firstname.lastname@example.org
This October, grungy T-shirts, ripped jeans and pink skirts will be a thing of the past at Toledo Public Schools junior highs.
And by next October, they’ll likely be removed from the high schools.
The 2005-06 school year marks the second year in the implementation of the TPS uniform policy. Junior high school students will have until October to be in compliance with the policy, and elementary school students are already in compliance.
”It’s been a very good program so far,” said Dr. Sheila Austin, chief of staff for the district. ”For it to be a first-year implementation, I thought it went rather smooth.”
The uniform program began last year when elementary school students were required to wear the uniforms.
Elementary school students are allowed to wear white, blue or yellow blouses, polos or turtlenecks with dark blue, navy, khaki or tan pants or knee-length shorts. Girls also are allowed to wear skirts, skorts or pants, and both girls and boys may wear sweaters.
Junior high students have the same dress code with an additional color for tops – maroon – and junior high girls may wear capri pants.
The uniforms cost about $30 for one pair of pants, one top and one sweater, Austin said, and uniform items are available at most major department stores. Free uniforms are available for families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line – which equates to an annual household income of $18,850 for a family of four.
The district has received 500 applications for free uniforms so far, and Lucas County Job and Family Services has spent about $600,000 providing free uniforms, Austin said. Each family applying for the first time receives four shirts, three bottoms and one sweater. Families who were in the program last year will get one additional shirt, bottom and sweater this year, Austin said.
Though Austin said the district has received mostly positive feedback concerning the uniforms, eighth grader Nico Covarrubias said he and his friends are not excited to begin wearing them next fall.
”I think it’s a bad idea,” Covarrubias said. ”You’re just dressing like everybody else. You’re not expressing yourself.”
Covarrubias’ mother, Alesia, has four other elementary-age children. She said having to purchase all her children’s uniforms at once was difficult, but now that she has them, she likes the idea of uniforms because children are more focused on schoolwork and less focused on fashion.
”I don’t hear them talk about, ’Oh, so and so’s wearing this’ ”
she said. ”They mostly come home and talk about what they’ve done in school.”
Ms. Covarrubias also said the uniforms make it easier to recognize students.
”I just think it’s a good thing for the principals and teachers to identify the children,” she said. ”When they go away on field trips, people can tell these kids are in school.”
Austin said these benefits were the reason TPS decided to make the switch to uniforms.
”When you talk to people, they’d tell you there’s a difference in how the students behave,” she said. ”They come to school ready to learn. The total environment has changed.”
And next year, Austin said, the uniform policy will apply to the high schools as well – perhaps with another color or clothing option. A study committee will meet this fall to discuss the high school uniform policy.
”I’m sure they’ll be another twist when it goes to the high school,” Austin said.