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School to poll parents about uniforms

(ran PAS edition)

The Lake Myrtle Elementary School advisory council is moving forward with its plan for school uniforms.

The council met Wednesday and after discussing the favorable results of a preliminary survey, next will mail surveys to parents' homes seeking approval.

Three weeks ago, the council sent 800 brief surveys home with pupils for their parents. About 200 were returned. Of those, 142 supported uniforms, while 50 opposed them. Of supporters, 131 called for a mandatory policy.

However, Pasco School District superintendent John Long has made it clear he will back only a voluntary, parent-supported school uniform policy.

The preliminary survey drew anonymous comments about the proposal, including:

"There is a need to put the emphasis back on learning, close the gap of social and economic differences, help end peer pressure and gang violence."

"I think uniforms take away a child's individuality."

"It would be a lot easier for parents if we don't have to argue every morning about what to wear, and would be easier buying clothes and, I think, a lot less expensive."

"I feel children should be individuals that are creative and expressive at their own identity and personalities. Respect, self-discipline, morals should be instilled at home and reinforced at school."

"I know uniforms are supposed to be beneficial, but we already buy a Girl Scout uniform, a baseball uniform, an Awana uniform and a dance recital outfit. I'm really not looking forward to keeping track of another uniform."

Support for uniforms appears overwhelming, based on that preliminary survey. But principal Monica Joiner wants to make sure as many parents as possible share their feelings on the issue.

"We need to know how a majority of families feel," Joiner said.

The mail-out survey should bring more responses, said assistant principal Tammy Kimpland.

"It'll be interesting to see which way it goes," she said. "For a lot of people it would eliminate some hassles in the morning."

Wearing a uniform promotes unity, some council members said, and helps put children in a mindset for learning.

The council soon will seek feedback from pupils and school staffers, going so far as to hold a fashion show to promote uniform styles.

Nancy Ehrle teaches third, fourth and fifth grades at Lake Myrtle. She also serves on the council.

She likes the idea of a pilot program for school uniforms at Lake Myrtle not only because it might make life easier for parents, but also because the policy could be introduced for middle school and high school students.

"That's where things like this are really needed," Ehrle said. "This would be a stepping stone to that."