School is right around the corner, so you know what that means — back-to-school shopping. But many students in Hillsborough County can just forget about the latest trends and fashion statements.
Twenty years ago, the school district voted to give schools the option of adopting a school uniform policy. Love or hate it, 78 elementary and 15 middle schools have a mandatory uniform policy. For 18 other elementary schools, uniforms are voluntary. No high schools participate.
To enact a dress code, schools must have parents vote on it. If there's an overwhelming majority for uniforms (about 75 to 80 percent), then they become mandatory. If it's a simple majority, they become voluntary. And at the schools where uniforms are mandatory, parents can opt out by simply signing a form.
Parents have lots of options when deciding where to buy school uniforms. They vary in color, size, texture and price. Here are six kids modeling clothes from five stores and their moms' reasons why they like to shop where they do.
Dong-Phuong Nguyen, Times staff writer
Nicholas Stanley, 8
"Last year I took Nicholas back-to-school shopping, and after an hour of hunting through crowded, poorly organized stores, all we had to show for it was one white polo shirt. So in the interest of not wanting to be a screeching mom with a miserable kid, we came home and in 10 minutes I ordered everything he needed (online) from Lands' End. … And I probably save a fortune in not having to bribe Nicholas in Pokémon cards to get him to endure back-to-school shopping." — Vickie Stanley
Katherine Viera, 7
The Children's Place
"Everything I got was 25-percent off. I love the feel of the clothes. They're so soft and yet so durable. My daughter can wear them for a couple of years and they still look great! It's great one-stop shopping. We get Katherine's uniforms, tights, socks, shoes, hair accessories, backpack and matching lunch box all in one place."— Polly Viera
Tyler Polidoro, 7
"I like to shop at Walmart for school uniforms because they are so reasonably priced. You can't beat polos for $5. They really do hold up well in the wash. And if they outgrow their clothes before the school year ends, I'll just buy more and it doesn't hurt the pocketbook." — Kim Polidoro
Belicia and Brysen Dykes, 7 and 9
"JCPenney has a great selection of polos in stores, but you can also order them online any time. They usually have sales. … Their clothes are durable and they have a great selection. My two boys wear the exact same size, but one is slim and one is husky. I can always find the right sizes. And they have cute jumpers and skorts for my daughter." — Pamela Dykes
Winston Hoang, 5,
Tampa Palms Elementary
"Target is great. They have nice clothes, and the prices are affordable. The clothes also last a long time. I have four kids, and I can use them as hand-me-downs." — Hoang Le