Pasco's Hudson Elementary School looks to student uniforms
Students at Hudson Elementary School, Pasco County's most academically struggling campus over the past decade, could find themselves wearing blue or red polo shirts and blue or khaki pants when classes resume in the fall.
Principal Dawn Scilex, who took over in May, proposed the move to uniforms to help focus the F-graded school and its students on success. [Download the plan here.] The school faces increased state scrutiny as it implements a new turnaround plan.
"When I got here, we did a lot of data collection," Scilex said. "I noticed kids do not have a sense of belonging or a sense of pride in being a Hudson scholar."
She suggested the uniforms to "level the playing field," so everyone can pay attention to academic achievement. This past year, 25 percent of students missed 10 percent of school days or more, while a third or fewer of students met grade level expectations as measured by the Florida Standards Assessments.
"We have a lot of goals to meet at Hudson," Scilex said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Before classes ended in June, Hudson surveyed parents and held three meetings to explain the concept. That helped to dampen opposition to a dress code change, unlike mounting discontent at Ridgewood High, which also has proposed tougher clothing rules.
Hudson's survey had more than 200 responses, with 79 percent saying uniforms would promote positive behavior, 81 percent saying they would increase school pride, and 86 percent saying they would like to purchase low-cost uniforms from the school. Little research has supported anecdotal reports that uniforms lead to improved school performance. Still, National Center for Education Statistics data show rising use of uniforms between 2004 (13 percent of schools) to 2012 (19 percent).
The Pasco School Board will review the uniform proposal at a Tuesday workshop. Superintendent Kurt Browning said that review will help him decide whether to give the change the green light. No other traditional public school in Pasco has uniforms.