The school uniform _ once the sole property of private academies _ is gaining a growing presence in Hernando County's public schools, where students from at least six campuses will be wearing uniform clothing this year.
Only one school, the brand-new Chocachatti Elementary School, will require students to wear uniforms. Others _ including Brooksville, Suncoast, Pine Grove and J.D. Floyd elementaries and Parrott Middle _ are hopeful students will wear uniforms on a voluntary basis.
Brooksville and Parrott intend to make their uniforms a requirement for the 2000-2001 school year. Others may decide to do so later.
At each school, the "uniforms" actually are composed of an assortment of colors and styles of clothing.
Bottoms _ which can include shorts and pants for boys and skirts, pants, shorts and skirt/short hybrids called "skorts" for girls _ are typically khaki or navy. Tops _ most often polo shirts _ vary in color from school to school, although white and teal seem to be popular colors.
School officials say uniforms reduce the pressure children feel to dress as well as or better than their peers. They also say uniforms eliminate clothing that can cause distractions, such as too-short shorts, T-shirts with wild graphics and the signature kid fashion of the '90s _ clothing that is so baggy that it barely hangs on the child's body.
School administrators say the uniforms are relatively inexpensive compared with most school fashions _ $7 to $15 for most articles. And the items are available at several local stores.
Anyone with questions about uniforms should call the child's school.