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Published: Tuesday, 8/12/2003

Toledo grade schools agree to wear uniforms


Two Toledo public elementary schools will “strongly encourage” uniforms to be worn when students return to the classroom in two weeks, district officials said yesterday.

Students at Arlington Elementary School in South Toledo are expected to wear black, navy, or khaki pants, shorts, skirts, or jumpers with solid-colored, collared shirts.

“It's a pretty basic code, but it was based on parental requests,” said Jan Kilbride, the school-improvement leader for the Arlington area.

At Hale Elementary School in the Scott High School area, students should don blue pants or skirts and white shirts.

“I don't want to stress parents out over this,” said Michelle Tuite, acting principal at Hale. “We're not going to send kids home who don't wear uniforms.”

Students and classes, including teachers, at Hale who follow the dress code will be rewarded on Fridays with special school supplies, Ms. Tuite said.

Both schools surveyed parents earlier this year and found a large majority in favor of uniforms, said Jane Bruss, district spokeswoman.

At Arlington, 87 percent said they would like uniforms at the school while 8 percent were uncertain but willing to go with the majority, district records show.

Ms. Tuite said 410 of the 450 surveys she sent out in May came back, mostly in favor of uniforms.

“Eighty percent of my parents felt comfortable with uniforms,” she said.

Kenton Miller, who has a second-grade son at Arlington, said clothes shopping for fall was finished at his household before he knew about the uniform policy this month.

While he's “not opposed” to the idea, he finds uniforms have their faults.

“Uniforms are really pretty bland and not suitable for other activities,” he said. “I just don't in my heart really feel that a strict uniform policy really has anything to do with how well a kid learns, but I understand proper dress.”

Ms. Tuite said she expects the dress code to improve student behavior and academic performance.

“We have children whose shorts are so tight across their rear ends that the boys are unable to focus on what they're supposed to do,” she said. “Honestly, they do focus more on academics” when wearing uniforms.

Toledo Public Schools' five academies - Grove Patterson Academy, Lincoln Academy for Boys, Old West End Academy, Stewart Academy for Girls, and the Toledo Technology Academy - currently require that their students wear uniforms.

The district has a committee that is studying mandatory district-wide uniforms.

Members of the Board of Education and the superintendent have said they are in favor of such a plan.

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