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School board approves uniforms for Live Oak

COVINGTON — Live Oak Elementary School will be the next in the Newton County School System to require its students to wear uniforms.

At its regular meeting last week, the Newton County Board of Education approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley as requested by school Principal Ericka Anderson to implement a uniform policy for the school's students beginning in August.

Anderson said the decision came after several months of planning, research and surveys.

In March, the school council and the PTO Board voted to provide the school uniform option to parents. In April, letters were sent home to 814 families in kindergarten through fourth grades with information on research and uniforms and asked what they would prefer — 384 parents replied with 238 "yes" and 146 "no" votes. In May, a staff survey resulted in 27 "yes" and five "no" votes, Anderson said.

"It seems like the response number (for parents) was kind of low," said school board Chair Cathy Dobbs to Anderson at the board's work session earlier this month.

The required uniforms include plain pants, skirts or shorts in khaki, navy or black colors, according to the policy, which was developed by the school council that's made up of teachers, parents and administrators. No cargo style, denim or Spandex is allowed, but Bermuda shorts that come to the knee are, and all bottoms must fit at the waist. No oversized clothing or clothing shorter than fingertip length is allowed, according to the school website.

Shirts must be a solid T-shirt or collared shirt in red, white, navy, green or blue. No large prints should be shown outside of clothing, but small logos on the pocket corner of shirts are acceptable, Anderson said. Solid navy, green, red or white sweaters are allowed if they are cardigan, pullover, V-neck or crew, full or vest types. Sweatshirts must be solid navy, green, red or white, according to the school website.

Students must wear white, black or brown athletic tennis shoes with no black bottoms. Other black or brown closed-toe shoes also are permitted, but other shoes like Uggs and full calf boots with a greater than one-inch heel are not allowed, as well as sandals, opened-toe shoes and flip flops, according to the school website. Socks or tights must be solid navy, white or black.

Belts must be brown or black and must be worn if bottoms have belt loops. No head wear is allowed except for religious or medical reasons with approval from school administration, according to the school website.

The policy is similar to other NCSS schools with uniform policies — Ficquett, Heard-Mixon, Middle Ridge and Porterdale elementary schools and Fairview Theme School and Sharp Learning Center.

Anderson said students will have free dress days throughout the school year, and extra days will be provided to students as an incentive for meeting academic or behavioral goals.

Current students will have a two-week grace period at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year and students new to Live Oak also will have a two-week grace period at the time of their arrival to obtain proper uniform clothing. After the grace period, the administration will require the parent of a non-complying student to bring a uniform or pick up the student.

The school will place a drop box at the side of the school building for uniforms to be donated, and the school counselor will seek community sponsors such as Partners In Education, local churches and other community groups to help out needy families, Anderson said.