Uniforms approved for school
Middle Ridge Elementary dress code to change

COVINGTON - At Tuesday night's monthly meeting, the Newton County Board of Education approved a request by Middle Ridge Elementary School to have its students wear uniforms next school year.

School Principal Karen Crowder submitted the request, along with a presentation about its proposed program, to the board at its monthly work session last week.

"We have a very high discipline rate at our school. We are trying to turn that around, and this was brought up as one idea that could help accomplish that," Crowder said during her presentation.

School Council President Kim Owens also said uniforms would help cut down on students who dress inappropriately and who have to experience name-calling for wearing off brands.

"It's very bad and very heartbreaking when a child comes home and says, 'Somebody made fun of me today,'" she said at the board's work session.

According to Crowder's presentation, the school first surveyed parents on the idea of uniforms in March 2007. From 103 replies, the majority were not in favor of uniforms.

In April 2007, parents were surveyed again, and of the 356 votes returned, 205 favored uniforms; and in April 2008, a staff survey showed 37 were in favor of school uniforms, while 21 were not, and that 318 kindergarten through fourth-grade parents were in favor of uniforms, while 260 were not, Crowder said.

She said in one survey to parents that most uniforms can cost between $5 and $12 from local retail stores.

The school plans to collect donations of used uniforms by placing drop boxes outside the building and having a spring sale at the final PTO meeting of each year to allow parents to sell or buy uniforms. The school counselors also will look for community sponsors, such as Partners in Education and local churches and organization, to help needy families.

Like other schools in Newton County with uniform policies, the dress code would require students at the school to wear shorts or skirts to the fingertips and pants in khaki/tan, black or navy color. They also would be allowed to wear tucked, collared or plain T-shirts in red, white, navy or black. Students would wear plain athletic tennis shoes with no black bottoms.

"Students new to (the school) will have a two-week grace period in order to obtain the uniform. Current students will have a two-week grace period at the beginning of the 2008-09 school year in order to obtain uniform clothing articles," according to Crowder's presentation. "Following the grace period, the parent will be asked to either bring a uniform for the student to change into or to pick up the student."

Students at the school won't always have to wear the uniform - Crowder said last week that one day each week, the school plans to allow them to wear their uniform or other clothing meeting guidelines from the previous dress code.

"Extra choice days may be provided to students as an incentive for meeting academic and/or behavior goals," according to her presentation.

In 2001, Ficquett Elementary School was the first school in the Newton County School System to require student uniforms. Now, Porterdale and Heard-Mixon elementary schools also have uniform policies, which may vary from Middle Ridge proposed policy.

The board members said they are looking into adopting a uniform policy system-wide for all elementary schools.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.